Not every estate has to go through probate proceedings. A skilled estate planning attorney can analyze a Florida resident’s financial and family situation to determine if a suitable probate avoidance strategy will work for the person’s situation. The most frequent ways to avoid probate include:
— The creation of revocable living trusts
— The use of joint tenancy
— The naming of beneficiaries on financial accounts.
When a trust is created, the assets inside the trust will generally not be subjected to probate proceedings. Most estate planners prefer to create a revocable living trust when trying to achieve this goal. A revocable living trust allows the trust creator, or the grantor, to be the trustee of the trust and retain control of its assets. Later, upon death, the trusteeship will be transferred to a previously determined successor trustee. The successor trustee will then distribute the assets of the trust to the heirs identified in the trust paperwork. All this is done without the need for probate; however, if the trust is challenged, probate proceedings could still be required.
Joint tenancy is a strategy that involves sharing ownership of a particular piece of property, like a home, for example. If a property owner wants to leave his or her home to a son or daughter, the owner of the home could create a joint tenancy arrangement in which the son or daughter becomes a joint owner. Upon the death of one of the joint tenants, the survivor assumes full ownership of the property.
The final strategy has to do with beneficiary designations on IRAs, 401(k)s and other financial accounts. Many types of financial accounts require the account owner to name the beneficiary of their accounts. This beneficiary will be transferred ownership of the property inside the account without having to go through the probate process.
No probate avoidance strategy is foolproof, but with a solid estate plan, Florida residents can expect to greatly diminish the chance that their heirs will have to go through the probate administration process.
Source: Findlaw, “Avoiding probate FAQs,” accessed April. 10, 2015