Can I Avoid Florida Probate Altogether?
When a person passes away in Florida, most of the time, their beneficiaries do not want to be burdened with the long, drawn-out process of probate. However, most of the time it cannot be avoided, either because the deceased person did not properly plan their estate, or they had assets that are required to go through probate. That said, there are ways for an estate to completely avoid the probate process – if they are planned properly, with the help of a qualified attorney.
The Problems With Probate
The overall goal of the probate process in Florida is to ensure that the decedent’s assets are transferred in the way they would have wanted, and that any outstanding debts are paid. However, there are several disadvantages to going through the process, with perhaps the most common complaint being that the process is not private. Probate proceedings in Florida are public record, so as to attract the notice of potential creditors – but this also means that any family “dirty laundry” may be on full display.
Because of this, it is common for people who are estate planning to try their hardest to avoid the probate process. There are several ways to do so, but the best one for you will depend on the nature of your assets and debts. Any asset in your name at the time of your passing will have to pass through probate before it can reach a beneficiary – so many people simply take the step of getting their assets into another person’s (or entity’s) name before they pass away.
Several Potential Legal Instruments
There are many different legal documents that can help you avoid probate in Florida, with some being easier to execute than others. For example, many married couples own their home together as joint tenants with rights of survivorship – when one spouse passes away, the other spouse inherits the entirety of the property without any need for probate.
Perhaps the most common tool people use to avoid probate is what is known as a living trust. A revocable living trust is an entity created by a person to hold their assets during the term of their lifetime, after which the trust’s assets will pass to a successor trustee. Because the assets are in the name of the trust, rather than the individual, any property contained in the trust is not subject to the probate process. The settlor (the creator of the trust) can still live on the proceeds during their lifetime.
Contact A Hollywood, FL Probate Attorney
Not every estate can avoid probate completely; there may be assets which are required to go through the process. If you have questions or concerns about whether your estate must be probated, contacting a Hollywood probate attorney from the Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. may be able to get them answered. Contact our office today at (954) 963-5900 to speak to an attorney.