Want to secure your family’s future? This article offers advice on how to avoid probate in Florida.
No one likes to think about death, but the fact is that it’s a part of life. If something happens to you and you don’t have a will, your loved ones will have to go through the probate process to access your assets.
Probate can be a long and expensive process, and it can take months or even years for your loved ones to get access to the assets you left behind. It may also feel overwhelming dealing with the personal items and other items of a loved one’s estate after they pass away.
The court oversees the handling of your loved one’s estate when you take your loved one’s estate through probate. It is necessary to ensure that one’s property is not solely owned in the individual’s name to avoid Florida probate.
A probate is a legal process where assets are transferred to whomever the decedent wants. However, they wanted and were freed from claims by creditors. The probate court process (the process of transferring assets to heirs after someone has passed away) can be confusing, lengthy, and costly. Therefore, it is not a surprise so many people wish not to burden their loved ones. Every state, however, offers a different way to avoid probate.
Does Florida Require Probate?
When someone passes away in Florida, probate is usually required. It is only possible to transfer assets to a beneficiary if the estate is in a living trust or you can transfer all the assets to a beneficiary listed in the estate. Probate will be required if the decedent was the only owner of the assets or if there was no legal provision to transfer the assets to the remaining co-owners after their death.
The Best Ways to Avoid Probate
Florida residents can avoid probate by planning. Establishing a living trust that includes all the estate assets is the best way. Upon death, a person’s assets are automatically passed to their trust beneficiary.
There is also the possibility of naming as many beneficiaries as possible. As an example, you can name a beneficiary for life insurance policies and retirement accounts so that after the owner dies, these assets will be distributed to the beneficiary.
● Living Trusts
Almost any asset you own can be protected against probate in Florida with a living trust, including bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, etc. To establish your trust before your death, you must create an agreement similar in method to a will that names a successor trustee to take control of the trust after your death.
You must transfer ownership of your property to yourself as the trustee of your trust to ensure that you own the property. As soon as all these steps are carried out, the trust agreement will control the property. You will be able to transfer your trust’s assets to the trust’s beneficiaries at your death without going through probate court.
● Beneficiary Accounts
Accounts that have beneficiaries upon the owner’s death are known as beneficiary accounts. As a result, the initial owner stipulates who inherits the account when the owner passes away. Ownership of assets registered in beneficiary form passes upon the sole owner’s death or the last surviving joint owner if there are multiple owners.
A transfer of this kind does not affect the decedent’s probate estate. A beneficiary designation is added to an account under Florida Statute 711.507 by designating it as “payable on death” or “transfer on death.” “POD” or “TOD” accounts are these types of financial accounts.
● A Ladybird Deed
The ladybird deed enables the grantor to retain the right to live in the property and control it for as long as they live while deeding real estate to future beneficiaries. No probate is required in an executed ladybird deed since the grantor’s life estate terminates upon the grantor’s death, so the beneficiary becomes the property owner.
● Joint Ownership
The surviving joint property owner will automatically acquire the other owner’s share of the property when the other owner dies if the joint ownership includes the “right of survivorship.” Despite the fact that some paperwork may be required to prove that the property is the sole property of the surviving owner, probate will not be necessary to transfer the property.
The state of Florida allows joint ownership in two forms: Joint tenancy and Joint ownership. When one owner of a joint tenancy dies, the property passes automatically to the surviving owners. There is no need for probate. Couples who acquire property together (married or not) often benefit from a shared tenancy. A joint tenant is an owner who owns an equal share of the property. This is known as tenancy by the entirety. Florida allows only married couples to hold joint ownership in the form of joint tenancy.
In addition to beneficiary forms and joint ownership, there are other ways to avoid probate. Even though such methods do not provide the flexibility of a living trust, they are still an excellent tool to use if you plan to meet your goals. To ensure that all your planning objectives are achieved in the most flexible, economical manner, you should work with an estate planning professional.