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Taking another look at probate and intestacy

Readers likely know that the rules of intestacy in Florida provide for the passing of an estate to the surviving spouse, subject to certain conditions. 

Yet probate is often required before the rules of intestacy can be applied to an estate. One way to bypass probate is with a trust. However, setting up a trust requires an understanding of which assets will or won’t pass through probate. Contract assets -- life insurance or retirement plans with a designated beneficiary -- can pass to the beneficiary without probate.

Yet a grantor with children or other beneficiaries might want to plan for every contingency, such as the possibility that both individuals associated with jointly owned property could become incapacitated or taken by a tragedy.

Alternatively, a grantor may have concerns about depleting his or her estate in the event of incapacity. Long-term care expenses have skyrocketed in recent years, and an individual may prefer to seek to qualify under Medicaid rather than liquidate his or her assets. An attorney that focuses on estate planning may have strategies to suggest for accomplishing such a goal. 

For example, a trust might be one strategy for removing assets from an individual’s control -- and thus keeping them out of the reach of creditors. A trust can also provide detailed instructions in the event the grantor becomes disabled. Similarly, a continuing trust can be established for beneficiaries with special needs.

Simply put, there is an array of estate planning options available, and an attorney can help an individual develop a comprehensive plan for the future. To learn more about these options, check out our firm’s estate planning page. 

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