The probate process in Florida is time-consuming and costly. Fortunately, in most cases it is easily avoided, but too many people fail to take the necessary actions to sidestep the process. Below, our Boca Raton estate planning lawyers outlines some of the best ways to avoid probate.
What Is the Probate Process in Florida?
Probate is a legal process that oversees the administration of a deceased individual’s estate. The process can take anywhere from a few months to two years or more, depending on the complexity of the estate. Creditors can make claims against the estate that diminishes its value, chipping away at the inheritance beneficiaries may receive. Having creditors bring claims against the estate also results in extra delays, preventing heirs from receiving their inheritance when they really need it.
Living Trusts Can Avoid Probate
Using a living trust is one of the most common ways to avoid probate. Any asset can be placed into a living trust, including your home, vehicle, bank account, and personal items. During your lifetime, you will maintain the living trust and have the ability to modify it or revoke it at any time. Upon your death, the trustee you have named will have the authority to maintain and control the trust. Unlike the probate process, the terms within a living trust are confidential and are not part of the public record.
Joint Ownership Can Avoid Probate
If you jointly own property or a bank account with another person, it can help you avoid the probate process. However, it must be clearly evident that the property is jointly owned with survival rights and not as common tenants. Married couples in Florida can jointly own financial accounts, immovable property, and tangible personal property with survivor rights in a distinct manner that is known as tenancy by the entirety. This legal term refers to the fact that each spouse owns 100 percent of the property and not just a percentage of it.
Transfer on Death (TOD) Can Avoid Probate
Transfer on death (TOD) applies to mainly securities and real estate. When creating a TOD, you appoint one or multiple beneficiaries and upon your death, the property will pass to these heirs. The brokerage that registers your TOD agrees to transfer the securities according to your wishes. If you wish to transfer immovable property, such as your home, you can use a life estate deed known as a ladybird deed. A ladybird deed allows you to keep possession of the property and pass it to your beneficiaries after you pass away.
Any asset that passes to a beneficiary through a TOD is not governed by probate and so, the process is not necessary.
Our Estate Planning Lawyers in Boca Raton Can Help You Avoid Probate
One of the best ways to leave your legacy to your family is to allow them to avoid the long and costly probate process. At SAMUELS WOOD PLLC, our Boca Raton estate planning lawyers can advise on the best ways to avoid the process and properly draft the legal tools that will help you do it. Call us now at 561-864-3371 or contact us online to speak to one of our experienced attorneys.