Are Probate Records Public Information?
Every probate record is considered public information within the state of Florida. Given this fact, most of the information these records contain is also public and, as such, accessible to those who wish to access it.
Going over what it means for your probate records to be public information, and speaking with a Florida estate planning lawyer, will allow you to develop the best possible estate plan.
Are Probate Records Public Information Within The State Of Florida?
To answer the question outlined above, “Yes, probate records are public information within the state of Florida.” And, what this means for you, is as follows:
- Someone outside of your family or friend group can access your probate records.
- Those same people can access your will.
- None of the information regarding who your beneficiaries are, and what they’ve received, is private.
- People can use this information to scam, or even harass, your chosen beneficiaries.
On a slightly more specific note, the documents that most probate records contain are as follows:
- A petition for probate.
- Your will.
- The letters of administration or, alternatively, the testamentary letters.
Every single one of these documents is considered a matter of public record. Someone outside of your family, or friend group, can access this information and use it in the way that they would like.
Can You Make Your Probate Records Private?
Every now and then, probate records can be made private. But, this is extremely rare and only if a judge finds a compelling reason to do so, such as these records potentially leading to an adverse outcome.
Outside of the above situation, when probate records are made public, it is very difficult for them to no longer be public information that anyone can access.
Even though the above is true, there are several estate planning mechanisms you can use, to ensure that your assets do not go through probate and that your estate remains private information.
How Can You Avoid Probate?
Out of all the estate planning mechanisms you can develop, in order to avoid probate, the most effective is, generally speaking, a living trust.
You can develop a living trust and, in doing so, your assets, and anything else that comprises your living trust, will be kept private.
Outside of the above, a living trust also allows you to modify, or simply revoke, the terms and conditions of that trust at any particular time.
Just as an example, if you decide to not give certain assets to a particular beneficiary, then you can make a modification that allows this to occur.
You can also give certain beneficiaries joint ownership over a savings account, bank account, or, even, a property deed. Doing so will allow you, and your beneficiaries, to avoid probate for those particular assets.
Speak With A Florida Estate Planning Lawyer Today
You can bypass probate with an effective estate plan. Speak with a Florida estate planning lawyer at the Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group today and we will assist you in developing an estate plan that satisfies all of your needs and goals.