A Simple Guide to Avoiding Probate Florida
Probate is the traditional method by which the assets are transferred from a deceased person to their living descendants and heirs. Probate is notoriously disliked as a procedure because it takes a very long time, usually at least a year, so that creditors are able to take as much money as they can from the estate first. This, of course, is another problem with probate, as are all the lawyer fees and court filing fees that will need to be paid from the estate. Add in the hassle of dealing with a Florida Probate Court regularly for a year, and it’s little wonder that avoiding probate Florida is such a popular goal. Sadly, it’s one that is seldom achieved. Therefore, take heed to these simple tips and be one of the few lucky ones who knows all about avoiding probate Florida.
The Will Fallacy
It’s occasionally stated that avoiding probate Florida can be achieved by simply drafting a will, but little could be farther from the truth. In fact, wills are sometimes defined as binding legal instructions to a probate court, so obviously the two go hand-in-hand. While few would deny that the process is much simplified if a will is present, the simplification is more to the tune of a 10 month process rather than 12, with all of the extra fees and creditor vulnerability that comes with the probate process, so that it can by no means be considered avoiding probate Florida.
Joint Ownership as Alternative
Unlike the will, joint ownership is a true means of avoiding probate Florida, albeit one with definite negatives. It’s possibly the simplest option. Own any property jointly with someone else, and then if one partner dies, the other automatically inherits the property. Visiting the bank or place of ownership with a death certificate is all the work required. However, property owned jointly is still exposed to estate taxes and to creditors, making it a weak way of avoiding probate Florida. And that’s assuming that you’re comfortable affording half your property to your heirs, which may be too large an assumption to begin with.
The Living Trust Option
When asked about avoiding probate Florida, many accountants and experts in the field advocate living trusts. These can be made out for any asset you own, from real estate to vehicles, though they require some work at the outset. You’ll need to write a trust document with a lawyer which will name your heir as inheriting the trust and its properties after your death. Afterward, you must put the trust in your name until your death, naming your self the sole trustee.
The drawbacks to living trusts can be considerable. For one thing, they are very complicated. Most trust documents are at least four times as long as most wills, and it may cost quite a bit to pay an attorney to write one. The assets in the trust have to be watched carefully, which can occasionally be hard to remember, since technically they’re not your assets, they’re your trusts. However, all the expense and trouble is likely worthwhile when you consider that it means avoiding probate Florida.