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Understanding probate and how to avoid it

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2023 | Probate |

If you execute an estate plan in Florida, several legal processes will take place when you die. Even if you pass away before executing a last will and testament, however, your passing will activate the legal system. The term “probate” refers to a specific process that the state uses to validate a person’s will and determine how to distribute his or her assets.

Many people maximize the use of estate planning tools to help their loved ones avoid probate whenever possible. This is usually because it can be a lengthy, expensive process. Some estate owners would rather keep their final wishes private. The probate process is a matter of public record, so this is another reason many people want to avoid it.

Which heirs can inherit a Florida estate without probate?

If you are a Florida estate owner or someone who stands to inherit a portion, or all, of a person’s estate, there are several things you should know about probate. In this state, the probate threshold is $75,000. This means that you can distribute any estate worth less than that amount without it passing through the probate court system. This is a “free and clear” inheritance.

Any property placed in a trust is no longer part of a person’s estate when he or she dies. Therefore, executing a trust is another option available to people who want to help their loved ones avoid the probate process. Items placed in trust do not pass through probate because they are not part of the estate; they are assets that have been set aside and placed in the care of a trustee, whose job it is to manage the trust according to the instructions of the grantor.

Certain assets may transfer upon death as part of an estate plan

In many cases, you can make sure assets are immediately transferred to a designated beneficiary when you die, without passing through probate. For example, if you name a beneficiary on a life insurance policy, the benefits do not pass through probate. The same is true for bank accounts that are payable upon death or real estate deeds transferrable upon death.

There are always ways to avoid probate through joint ownership of Florida property. You can implement this strategy in several ways. It’s best to explore all options available to determine which type of joint ownership best fits your estate planning needs. Support is available for those who need probate or estate administration assistance.