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How Do I Avoid Probate?

What is Probate?

Probate can be a public, costly, and time consuming process, during which a decedent’s debts are settled and assets are administered. Many probate cases take at least several months to settle, but in some cases, may even take years. In addition to being time consuming, probate adds an additional layer of stress to your heirs. Hiring a probate attorney may even use some of the assets for your heirs.

It is easy to see why you would want to avoid this drawn out legal process.

 

Four Ways to Avoid Probate.

When inquiring about Estate Planning, many of our clients ask us how they can avoid probate. Keep reading to find out four common ways of avoiding probate.

Living Trust

  1. Create a Trust.

Creating a Revocable Living Trust is a very common means of avoiding probate. When you write a trust, you are in control of the assets in that trust until your death or incapacitation. By placing property in a living trust, even after your death, it is not part of the probate estate.

Once you pass away, a successor trustee will own the property and will be able to distribute it to relatives and friends, according to your wishes. Thus, establishing a revocable living trust allows you to easily avoid probate.

 

  1. Designate Beneficiaries.

Certain accounts have designated beneficiaries, and therefore, avoid probate. When you pass away, these accounts will pass funds onto your designated beneficiaries without going through the probate process.

Such accounts include: 401(k); annuities; IRAs; life insurance.

 

  1. Give Away Property.

During your lifetime, you can give gifts to simply and easily help you and your family avoid probate. If you give property away during your lifetime, you no longer own it; when you die, it will not be considered part of your estate. And if probate is still required, giving gifts will lower the probate costs, since there will be fewer assets going through probate.

 

  1. Joint Ownership of Property.

When you pass away, any jointly owned property will pass to the owner who is still living. In Florida, there are two main forms of joint ownership that can help you avoid probate:

  • Joint Tenancy with a Right of Survivorship: When one of the joint tenants of the property passes away, the survivor will take full ownership.
  • Tenancy by the Entirety: In the State of Florida, married couples hold property in entirety, rather than in joint tenancy. This is very similar to joint tenancy, but reserved strictly for married couples. When you pass away, your spouse will take over ownership of the property.

 

Avoiding probate can save your family and loved ones much time, money, and hassle. And the best part is that by taking these four simple steps, you can save your estate, and your loved ones, from expenses later.

 

If you have any questions regarding avoiding probate, please call O’Brien & Bennett at 941-316-9200 to speak to us today.

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