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How To Avoid Probate in Florida

In a previous blog post, we discussed what probate is and a brief overview of the probate process. Whether you are planning your own estate or are the executor – or “personal representative” as it is called in Florida – of a loved one’s estate, most people want to minimize the assets that pass through probate because it can be expensive and time consuming. There are many legal ways to avoid probate. This article introduces some common ways that assets pass aside from probate.

Living Trusts – Living trusts provide one of the most popular estate planning techniques. You can put any and all assets in a trust and then at your death the trust passes to your designated beneficiary. Trusts can be complicated and like anything else in this article, you should talk with a skilled estate planning attorney to see if this method would work for you.

Bank Accounts – There are a couple of different ways that bank accounts can be transferred at the death of an account holder. One simple way is to name a “payable on death” beneficiary. When your bank is made aware of your death, it will then be able to transfer your account assets to the beneficiary.

Another way to make sure that bank accounts will transfer outside of probate on your death is to change the account from being owned solely by you, to an account that is shared with someone else. Of course there are many risks to this approach, and your bank can talk to you more about options for joint accounts with limited powers for the person who is added.

Insurance- You may not have intended it, but life insurance policies are another way that many people avoid probate. Because there is a designated beneficiary, the proceeds from the insurance policy will go right to that person directly, and not go through probate. The exception to this is if you name your estate as your beneficiary. Then the money would become part of your estate and likely go through probate at that point.

Securities  – Investments in securities, such as stocks, are similar to bank accounts in that you can name a payable on death beneficiary and the securities will pass directly to that person on your death.

Right of Survivorship – Joint ownership with a right of survivorship is a common way that houses pass between people outside of probate. This is when two people are joint owners of a house, or other real property, and the deed designates the property as jointly owned with rights of survivorship. On the death of one of the owners, the other owned would become the sole owner of the property.

The Villages Probate and Estate Planning Attorneys

Taking advantage of sophisticated estate planning techniques is important to save time and money for your loved ones when you pass. To make sure that you maximize the ways to avoid probate and other estate planning tools, you need a knowledgeable probate and estate planning attorney. Our experienced attorneys at the Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group in the Villages can help you to plan your estate in the way that works best for you and your loved ones.

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