Why Would I Want To Avoid Probate?
There are several reasons why a person might want to avoid probate, including the size of the estate, the complexity of the assets involved, privacy concerns or simply the desire to spare loved ones the delays, frustration and expenses that go hand-in-hand with formal probate proceedings.
At Kramer A. Litvak, P.A., we can help you determine if this goal is necessary or appropriate and if so, we can provide the legal services you’ll need to achieve it. Contact us to learn more about avoiding probate in Pensacola or northwestern Florida and how our lawyers can help.
Avoiding Probate Starts With Sound Estate Planning
Florida’s probate process can usually be avoided with careful estate planning. It is important to note, however, that probate cannot be avoided simply by drafting a last will and testament. More is required.
How assets are titled is important in avoiding probate. Take, for example, the husband and wife who own a second home held in title as a “tenancy by the entirety” or as a “joint tenancy with right of survivorship.” Full control of an asset titled this way will automatically pass directly to the surviving spouse with no hassle or probate required.
Another tool to avoid probate is the creation of a revocable living trust. Like a will, a revocable living trust controls how much of your estate will pass upon your death. By transferring your assets to the trust you no longer own them: the trust does. After your death, the trust acts as a will and controls the disposition of your assets. Since title to your assets is in your trust’s name and not your name, your assets will not pass through probate.
In conjunction with creating a revocable living trust, the plan will include a “pour over” will. The pour over will is a “catch-all” to capture any assets that were not transferred to your trust during your life. The pour over will automatically pours over any assets in your estate to your trust upon death. Your trustee then distributes the assets of the trust according to the terms of the trust document. Within your pour over will, you may also designate one or more guardians to care for your minor children.
Lastly, a solid estate plan for avoiding probate should also contemplate any other nonprobate assets that are not going to be held in title by a revocable living trust. These might include life insurance policies, IRAs or financial accounts with “payable on death” or “transfer on death” designations attached.
Contact Kramer A. Litvak, P.A., For A Free Consultation
Our attorneys can help you develop an estate plan and welcome the opportunity to speak with you. Learn more today by calling our Pensacola offices at 850-308-1677 or (toll-free), or sending us a brief email message.
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