Getting The Forms Right

One of the cheapest forms of estate planning also happens to be the easiest, placing the correct title on your assets. A primary goal for most people is to have their property bypass their estate and go directly to their beneficiaries when they die. They do not want it to pass through their estate, where it will be counted toward estate tax, may be used to cover death and estate administrative expenses, and will be available to pay creditors.

Some assets can be protected by merely completing a form. There is a place to designate beneficiaries on the original forms for life insurance policies, annuities, and mutual funds. The owner can name a person, corporation, trust, or other entity as a beneficiary, and title passes to them upon your death. If no beneficiary is named, then the proceeds go into your estate.

Some types of assets have an option for “right of survivorship” if there are two or more owners. When one owner dies, the remaining owner takes full title to the asset. This option is common on joint bank accounts. Vehicle title forms in Texas have a box to check for “right of survivorship.” This is seldom used because most people don’t know the option exists. It is, however, a very easy way to pass title upon death.

How you title your assets could have other implications, such as triggering a gift tax or rendering you ineligible for government aid. It’s always a good idea to have a lawyer’s advice on any estate planning decision Hammerle Finley can help you get your assets together. Our team of attorneys have years of experience in Estate Planning and areas of law that will benefit you and your loved ones in the future. Give us a call.

Virginia Hammerle is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and an Accredited Estate Planner by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils. She can be contacted at The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice. ©2017 Virginia Hammerle