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Just Having a Will isn’t enough – Find out how to Avoid Probate in Florida

Estate Planning & Administration, Probate

Any probate attorney in Florida will tell you that many people assume that if they have a will, probate will not be required. However, it is important to understand the meaning of a will.

A will allows you to designate beneficiaries and a representative who will oversee your estate. It basically functions as a roadmap and allows the probate court to ensure that your final wishes are followed. It is essential to realize that a will cannot implement on its own; it has to be implemented by the probate court.

If you want to avoid probate, consult a probate lawyer in Florida. Remember, a will cannot avoid probate. However, there are ways to avoid probate in Florida.

Here are some ways you can avoid probate:

Living Trust

You can make a living trust in Florida to avoid probate for any asset you own, be it real estate, vehicle or bank account. You will need to create a trust document, which is quite similar to a will. The document will name a successor trustee to manage the assets after you die. Remember, it is crucial to transfer the ownership to the trust trustee, which is you. Once you have done that, the trust will have the responsibility to manage the assets and after you pass away, the successor trustee with hand over the assets to the beneficiaries.

Joint Ownership

You can also own property jointly with someone else. Make sure the ownership comes with the right of survivorship. This way, the surviving owner will inherit the property without necessitating probate. While it will take a little paperwork, but any probate lawyer in Florida will tell you it is a better option than a long and expensive probate procedure.

The state of Florida allows you two types of joint ownership. One is the joint tenancy, which the ownership automatically passes to the surviving owner and does not need probate. This is great for real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, and other valuable assets. The second type of joint ownership is tenancy by the entirety, wherein the ownership is like joint tenancy, but can only be used by married couples.

Payable-on-Death Bank Accounts

In Florida, you can include a payable-on-death clause to your certificates of deposits and bank account. During your lifetime, you will control the money in your account and your beneficiaries will have no access to it. Once you die, the beneficiaries can claim the funds in the bank accounts without going through probate.

It is prudent to remember that even if you do not plan anything to avoid probate, you may still be able to avoid it. Florida has something known as simplified small estate probate procedure. Speak to your probate attorney in Florida to find out more about it. It is quite possible that your estate could qualify for this after your death.

The Bottom Line

With probate being a court proceeding in Florida, it can take anywhere from one year or more to get the matter resolved. It also requires you to hire a probate lawyer in Florida, which can be expensive. So, it is best to speak to a probate attorney in Florida to find out if there are ways to avoid probate. You can be certain that making a will in Florida is not a way to avoid probate.

The Law Office of Michael T. Heider, P.A. in Clearwater, Florida provides best legal counseling for all matters pertaining to probate, will, or real estate at affordable rates. Call us today for any queries or for a no-obligation free estimate and our probate lawyers in Florida would be glad to offer their advise that is apt for your situation.