Florida Probate Law
There are a number of reasons to be wary of Probate. Here are some of those reasons.
1. Probate can be expensive The legal fees can eat up a chunk of your estate, and the costs can go up significantly for larger estates.
2. Probate can tie up an estate. The length of time depends on how complicated the case is and whether anyone is objecting. Even short delays can hurt beneficiaries. Assets may be completely unavailable until the probate is opened and and personal representative (called an executor in some states) is appointed. This can really hurt a spouse and young kids, or those who are called upon to advance funds for funerals and attorneys.
3. Probate also raises privacy concerns because it puts the will into public record. Some people may not want others to know to whom they left their assets.
Responding to these concerns, many states have enacted streamline procedures, at least for small estates. In Florida, for instance, estates under $75,000 (not including the primary residence, the family car, and household belongings) may be eligible for a Summary Administration.
Way to Avoid Florida Probate
Other ways to avoid Probate is to keep assets out of Probate’s reach.
Here are some of the most common and least expensive ways to do so.
1. Create and fund a revocable living trust. Living trusts have become more and more common and really coming to the fore in estate planning. The average cost for a living trust for a married couple is $1,500.00. This can save thousands of dollars of probate costs.
2. Payable on Death Accounts or Transfer on Death Accounts. There is no cost to doing this, it’s just a matter of setting up your bank and brokerage (non-retirement) accounts in this way.
3. Beneficiary Designations. For Life Insurance, Retirement Accounts, and Annuity type financial products, you can simply fill out a form which designates your primary and secondary beneficiaries. Doing this will avoid these assets from passing to your estate and requiring a Probate before they can be distributed.
4. Transfer on Death Deeds. This is the latest trend in estate planning, and allows real property to pass directly to the named transferee(s) upon the property owner’s death. Like a Transfer on Death Bank Account, the property transfers outside of a Will and is not subject to Probate.
The upcoming blog posts will explore these ways to avoid probate. But, don’t do it yourself. DYI is never a good idea in estate planning. Contact a lawyer to make sure your documents are bullet proof.