How to Avoid Probate in Florida
When it comes to planning for the future, having a clear and well-considered life plan is essential to preserving your assets, protecting your family, and providing for your own peace of mind. While there are many considerations that go into preparing a life plan, one fundamental issue that often gets overlooked – because it is often not well-understood – is the matter of avoiding probate.
What is Probate?
When you die, the distribution of your assets and administration of your final affairs can happen in one of two ways: It can involve your family and other loved ones dealing with probate; or, it can take place outside of the probate process.
Probate is the formal judicial process for administering a person’s estate. In order to initiate a probate proceeding, your personal representative will file the necessary paperwork in the appropriate court, and then the process will move forward with a varying degree of court oversight depending on the size and complexity of your estate.
Why Do You Want to Avoid Probate?
While there is nothing inherently wrong with the probate process in Florida, it has some undesirable attributes. Probating an estate – especially a large estate – takes time, and the duration of the process depends on factors ranging from the court’s docket to the number of issues that come up along the way. Due to its duration, probate also tends to be expensive, or at least more expensive than administering an estate through other means.
How Do You Avoid Probate?
So, how do you avoid probate? In Florida, you can use certain specific life planning documents that allow for the execution of non-probate transfers. These documents keep your assets out of your probate estate, and this means that they are not subject to probate at the time of your death.
Some common examples of life planning tools that can be used to avoid probate in Florida include:
Revocable trusts (or living trusts) – For many people, a revocable trust serves as a partial substitute for a will. Having a will is still necessary, but establishing a revocable trust keeps your assets out of probate.
Irrevocable trusts – Irrevocable trusts also keep assets out of probate, and they can be used for a variety of specific purposes. These range from charitable giving to providing for a child with special needs.
Account beneficiary designations – Bank accounts, retirement accounts and other types of accounts can all have designated beneficiaries, and these designations allow for smooth transfers outside of probate.
Life insurance policies – A life insurance policy is an asset that allows for transferring wealth outside of probate as well. Buying life insurance makes sense for people in a broad range of circumstances, and Jacksonville, FL life planning attorney Mark F. Moss can help you decide if buying life insurance is right for you.
Discuss Your Life Plan with Jacksonville, FL Attorney Mark F. Moss
Is it time for you to put together your life plan? To discuss what you can do to protect your loved ones from probate while fully achieving your life planning goals, call 904-329-7242 today.