When a beloved family member passes away, surviving relatives might feel overwhelmed with sadness. Although survivors may have a hard time moving forward, legal and financial responsibilities arise and require attention. Probate court proceedings could add more stress to Florida family members dealing with a loved one’s death. Taking steps to avoid probate could be a significant part of an individual’s estate planning.
Avoiding probate in Florida
Probate involves reading a will and carrying out the various stipulations in the document. Not everyone realizes that certain assets do not require probate for distribution. A jointly held account with rights of survivorship would transfer on death, for example, and the probate court has no involvement.
Avoiding probate litigation may center on shifting as many assets to transfer-on-death status as possible. Such assets could include bank, brokerage, stock and individual retirement accounts. The steps for transferring ownership after an account holder dies might not be complicated; providing a name and date of birth could be enough to name a beneficiary.
Concerns about avoiding probate
Probate might cost beneficiaries significant amounts of time and money. The process could drag on longer than expected, especially if one beneficiary challenges the will. Contesting the will may lead to bitter feelings among survivors and destroy relationships.
Taking steps to avoid probate also undermines some steps that a disgruntled relative could take. The process may become easier for loved ones to handle when the assets don’t go through probate.
A testator might want to see certain beneficiaries receive specific assets. The court may rule against the testator’s wishes when someone contests the will, but this outcome could be avoided if an asset doesn’t go through probate.
How to avoid probate
Establishing joint account holders or property owners and naming others as account beneficiaries serves as one way to avoid probate. Setting up a trust could also work around probate. Estate planners may want to do more research to learn about their options.