If you haven’t thought about estate planning, now would be the perfect time to get in touch with a qualified and experienced attorney and work on this very important deed. If you do not do estate planning, depending on the state where you pass away and the states where you own real estate, your family members may have to go for probate. This can be a long-drawn process and cause unnecessary stress for your family.
Here are some situations when probate becomes a necessity.
You are the sole owner at the Time of Your Demise
There could be a possibility you are named as the sole owner of all the assets and have not listed a beneficiary or included co-owners. In such a case, probate becomes a must, as your name would have to be removed and your beneficiaries names would have to be added. In Florida, a full probate formal administration is not required if the estate value is $75,000 or less. In such cases you can go for summary administration which is a relatively faster process.
You Own Assets as Tenant-in-Common
If you own assets in your name as a tenant-in-common, your share of the assets will require a probate, so that your heirs can inherit it. However, if you place your tenant-in-common assets into a revocable living trust before you pass away, there will be no need to probate them.
You Haven’t Designated Beneficiaries or Your Beneficiaries Predecease You
You may have medical savings account, life insurance policy, IRA, 401(k), health savings and/or annuities. You may have also named beneficiaries who will receive the money in case of your demise. However, in some cases if the beneficiaries predecease you or you have not bothered to name beneficiaries, a probate will be required so that your heirs can receive the money from these accounts.
You Have No Valid Last Will and Testament
Thinking about your own death is morbid and that is why many people often detest drawing up a last will and testament. However, this is a huge mistake. In case you die without naming your heirs and beneficiaries, your estate would have to be probated to determine the beneficiaries and ensure they get their rights.
Even though you die leaving behind a last will and testament, but if one of the aforementioned situations come into play, your heirs and beneficiaries would have to go through a probate hearing before they can be named legal heirs. In all cases when probate becomes necessary, your beneficiaries and heirs maybe spared the ordeal of a full probate if your estate qualifies as a small estate for a summary administration instead of a full probate administration.
Each case and situation is specific and this article is only meant as a general guidance. We suggest you to consult a qualified Florida Probate Attorney to discuss your specific situation.