How to Avoid Probate in Florida

Avoiding Probate in Florida is Actually Quite Easy to Do

As an alternative, the probate process itself is expensive and lengthy, yet people don’t realize that there are a few simple ways to avoid probate.  It is possible to spare your family the hassle.  In this blog, we discuss a few easy ways of avoiding probate in Florida.  But, each person’s situation is different.  What would work for you would depend on your assets and their titles, who you want to inherit your possessions and more.  First know, you do not need to hire an attorney to help you with these matters.  If you choose to do this yourself with the help of a Florida estate planning legal document preparer or trust and will legal document preparer or probate specialist, you can save yourself lots of money and provide peace of mind at the same time.  South Florida Legal Doc Prep Services has 25+ years probate paralegal experience and can help you prepare a revocable living trust, pour-over will, living will, lady bird deed and so much more for a fraction of the price a lawyer will charge.

Let Us Look at a Few of the Issues that Can Help You Avoid Probate

Is it Necessary to Keep that Florida Property?

Real Estate in Florida

Say you are not a resident in Florida, but you own real estate here.  An option to avoid probate in Florida is to gift your property to your children or another beneficiary.  It will reduce the value of your total estate and thus avoid probate.

Joint Ownership as a Vehicle

Be Joint Owners

Adding another person to a bank or investment account, or even a deed for real estate will avoid probate in Florida.  It must be made clear in the documents, however, that the owners of the account are joint tenants with the rights of survivorship.

If you are married, this same vehicle is called “tenancy by the entirety”.  The surviving owner automatically owns the property when the other owner dies.

However, there are a few downsides to this:

      • You might need to declare tax and report the transactions to the IRS.
      • Should a joint owner get sued or divorced, a creditor or the divorcing spouse may be entitled to the assets in the joint account.
      • Should a joint owner die, a minimum of 50% (perhaps more) of the joint account could be deemed as part of the deceased person’s estate and be taxed.
      • Tenancy by entirety is not the best idea in a second marriage. You might want your own children to inherit your property, which might not happen in the end.

Beneficiary Designations

Give Them a Name

Beneficiary designations are already part of life insurance or retirement accounts.  In naming your beneficiaries here, you are already avoiding probate procedures.

Bank and Brokerage Accounts

What is also good to know, is that in Florida, you can also designate beneficiaries for your bank accounts, stocks, and bonds, or non-retirement investment accounts.  While you are living, you use the accounts just as you usually would have.  It only means, that, at your death, the money can be claimed directly from the bank or brokerage without it going to probate proceedings.

Enhanced Life Estate Deed

You can also use the so-called “Ladybird Deed” to keep a property in Florida in your name while you are living but to pass it on to your beneficiaries after your death without the need for probate.  This type of deed is not that commonly used, so it will be useful to speak to a professional about it.

A Revocable Living Trust

The Trust Now Owns It

You can also avoid probate in Florida by creating a revocable living trust and title your assets in the name of the trust. Once the trust owns everything, it can’t fall under probate anymore.  Virtually any asset you own can be titled to the trust: real estate, bank accounts, and vehicles.  The terms of the trust control your property, and, after your death, by a successor trustee.  This person can transfer assets to your loved ones without probate court proceedings.

Note here that a revocable living trust is the only way you can indirectly transfer a vehicle to someone without going through probate.

Conclusion

Although there are only a few simple ways of avoiding probate in Florida, it can mean the difference between a long and intricate probate process and a relatively easy way to get your assets to the ones you love.  It is essential, though, to let an experienced legal document preparer help you with the process.

Avoid Fighting

Most people don’t want to think about death.  This is perhaps why they don’t believe it is important to worry about ways to avoid probate.  However, there are horror stories that will leave you shocked about how families can fight over assets. Do you really want your family to go through that? Not sure what’s best for you? Please review this blog post for more information.

At South Florida Legal Doc Prep Services, LLC we can help you create peace of mind.

Contact Us Today for a Free Quote