When someone dies, the executor of their estate locates and files their will with the probate court in the Florida county where the decedent resided at the time of their death. You don’t avoid the probate process by not having a will in place. There are, however, steps that you can take to avoid probate.
Many individuals want to avoid the probate process to maintain their family’s privacy. Most everything filed with the court becomes part of the public record. It’s easy for someone to go to their local courthouse and learn a great deal about your assets reading your case file. If the thought of this happening once you’re gone rubs you the wrong way, then you may find it helpful to learn about more discreet ways to pass what you have on to others.
One way that you can avoid the Florida probate process is by changing the way that your property is classified. You may want to modify your home’s deed to reflect that you have joint ownership with tenancy by the entirety or survivorship rights. You can do this with investment or bank accounts as well.
You may also set up a revocable living trust. You can document how you’d like to administer it at different stages. You may highlight how you want to be in full control of it while you’re alive and thriving, but have someone else step in and control it if you become mentally unwell. You may also spell out who will serve as trustee over the trust once you die in your instructions.
A third option for avoiding the Florida probate process is for you to make use of life estate deeds or to carefully make beneficiary designations.
You may want to earmark any funds contained in your bank account for a particular individual through a process known as “payable on death”. You may also want to designate someone to receive the proceeds contained in your life insurance policy or have them gain ownership rights to your investment account. All this can be achieved by listing your designee as a beneficiary in your ownership documents.
There are many pros and cons associated with these different approaches to avoiding the probate process. Speak with a trusts attorney in Miami to learn about the benefits and drawbacks associated with each of these options.