Why is the Texas Transfer Toolkit Important?
The most common assets a low-income person may own are a car, a home, and money in a bank account. The Texas Transfer Toolkit contains all the forms and instructions needed for Texans to transfer these assets to another person (the beneficiary) upon their death outside the probate system, saving their loved ones significant time and money.
If a person dies without properly designating a person to receive these assets upon their death, their loved ones must go to probate court to be able to take ownership of these assets. Currently, Texans cannot represent themselves in probate court, except in very limited circumstances, so they must hire a lawyer. People who cannot afford a lawyer often forgo going through probate, with the result that they cannot access the money in the bank account and may have significant problems with title to the home and car.
What’s in the Toolkit?
- How to Transfer a Home or Real Estate: A transfer on death deed is a simple, inexpensive way for a homeowner to transfer a home or real estate to someone else upon their death. A transfer on death deed does not affect the owner’s rights during their lifetime, so the owner can still sell the property, use it as collateral, get property tax exemptions, etc. The beneficiary has no rights until after the owner dies. The owner can also change the beneficiary or cancel the transfer on death deed entirely. The Toolkit contains forms and instructions to:
✓ Create and file a transfer on death deed,
✓ Cancel a transfer on death deed, and
✓ File an affidavit of death, which allows the beneficiary to obtain the property after the owner dies.
- How to Transfer a Motor Vehicle: The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has created a two-step process to transfer a vehicle to a beneficiary upon the owner’s death. The owner must first complete the Beneficiary Designation of a Motor Vehicle form, which tells the Texas DMV who the owner wants the car to go to. The owner next completes the Application for Texas Title and/or Registration form, which asks the Texas DMV to reissue title to the vehicle with the name of the beneficiary on it. The Toolkit contains both forms and instructions on how to complete and submit them.
- How to Transfer Money in a Bank Account: A payable on death bank account allows an account holder to name a beneficiary who will get the money in the account upon the account owner’s death. The Toolkit contains instructions on how to make a bank account payable on death. Each bank has its own form.
- Beneficiary Instructions: The Toolkit also contains a form that owners can give to any beneficiary, stating which asset the owner intends to give the beneficiary upon their death and what that beneficiary needs to do once the owner passes.
Where Can I Find the Texas Transfer Tool Kit?
The Texas Transfer Toolkit can be downloaded from the interactive image below or from here.
The entire Texas Transfer Toolkit, as well as the individual forms and step-by-step instructions in the Toolkit, can be found here on TexasLawHelp.org. TexasLawHelp.org has free forms and instructions for many other common civil legal issues faced by Texans, such as divorce or landlord-tenant matters, and is hosted by the Texas Legal Services Center, a statewide legal nonprofit.