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Monday, November 28, 2022

How Do I Avoid Probate In Florida – A Complete Guide!

Probate court procedures can be very long, tiring, and costly. This is why most people take steps to save their families from this hassle.

There are different ways you can avoid probate in Florida but before we look into them, let us understand what probate is.

Understanding Probate

The primary concept behind probate is to allow the transfer of assets from a decedent to their heirs after paying off the decedent’s debts.

Probate is a legal procedure through which the legal title of the deceased property is transferred to the heir that is mentioned in the deceased will and to pay off their debts to any creditors.

All the property under the title of the descent is subject to probate. The deceased assets that are subject to probate are referred to as their probate estate.

The rules and laws of probate were established by the Florida legislature and are a part of the Florida Statutes. Probate is conducted by a person appointed by the deceased in their will as their representative.

An executor can be anyone the person trusts, such as their friends or family members, or a professional such as an attorney or banker.

Creditors and beneficiaries are notified and invited to claim their money. Creditors’ claims have to be sorted out before the court can give permission to transfer the decedent’s assets to their beneficiaries.

The probate procedure ends when the court orders the transfer of legal title to the creditors as instructed by the decedent’s will and discharges the personal representative.

Probate is carried out by a special kind of civil court division known as a probate court. Probate includes filing the list of the decedent’s assets and notifying the decedent’s creditors. The probate court helps resolve any disputes between family members over the decedent’s will.

The probate procedure involved filling out many statutory forms, a probate judge and their orders, court hearings, and in some cases, court trials.

In Florida, the decedent’s personal representative should be in contact with an attorney in Florida such as Easler Law who assists them throughout the probate process.

The personal representative cannot file or conduct the probate on their own and require an attorney. Now that you have understood what probate is in detail let us look at some ways you can avoid probate in Florida.

1.  Living trusts

In Florida, you can transfer your assets to a living fund regardless of what sort of asset it is. It can be your bank accounts, automobiles, real estate, and so on.

You need to create a legal trust document and name someone as a trustee who will take over after your death, known as a successor trustee. Then comes the crucial part, you need to transfer your ownership of the assets to yourself as the trustee of the trust.

Once these steps are complete, the property will be under the terms and conditions of the trust. Once you pass away, your successor trustee can transfer your assets to the trust beneficiaries without probate court procedures.

2.  Joint ownership

If a property is owned by two people, it is subject to the right of survivorship, and as a result, the surviving owner automatically becomes the owner of the asset or property once the other partner dies.

There will be no need for probate to transfer the assets, though it might take some paperwork to show that the property is not held solely by one owner. In Florida, there are two types of joint ownership available.

Joint tenancy

Joint tenancy allows the automatic transfer of assets to the surviving owner when one owner passes away. No probate is required. Joint tenancy is ideal for couples who have real estate, automobiles, bank accounts, and other such properties together. In Florida, each owner shares a 50-50 share.

Tenancy by the entirety

This type of joint ownership is only for married couples. The rest of the rules, terms, and regulations are the same as joint tenancy.

Payable on death designation for bank accounts

This applies to the bank accounts you own. During your life, you can add a payable-on-death designation and assign a beneficiary who can claim the money after your death.

During your life, the bank account and the money in it are yours, and the POD has no rights to the money. But once you pass away, the money in the bank account is transferred to the beneficiary without probate court proceedings.

Transfer on death registration

In Florida, you can register bonds and stocks in transfer on death terms. If you have an account in TOD, also known as a beneficiary form, the beneficiary you named will inherit the account at your death without the need for a probate court proceeding. The beneficiary will automatically and directly get the account.

Transfer on death deeds for real estate

In Florida, you cannot transfer real estate property through transfer on death deeds. However, there is a type of deed known as enhanced life estate deed or ladybird deed that works on the same concept of transfer on death deed.

An enhanced life estate deed allows you to transfer your real estate property to your beneficiary at your death, but it is not very common.

Transfer on death registration for automobiles

Florida does not allow any transfer on the death registration of vehicles.

In a nutshell

Nobody knows when they are going to die but what they do know is that they want to take care of their loved ones and family.

This is why most people go for insurance policies and estate plans, as it ensures your loved ones will be well taken care of after your death. In order to claim the money of the decedent, you need to go through a probate court proceeding.

However, probate court proceedings are tiring, costly, and confusing and can be very difficult to do while you mourn the death of your loved one, which is why every measure to avoid probate should be taken before one’s death.

The above-mentioned ways to avoid probate will surely save your loved ones from the hustle after your death.

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