Demystifying The Probate Process In The State Of Florida
Originally, Probate referred to the process of validating a Will and entering it into the public record. Then began the process of administering the Estate in accordance with the Will if it was accepted. In recent years, the term Probate as commonly used, encompasses the entire process. And many advertisers push the myth that the only strategy is to completely avoid this process. But if you understand the process, you may find it has advantages for your estate.
At its core, the Florida probate process is the court’s method of distributing an individual’s estate after their passing. In short, it is an opportunity to organize, inventory, and distribute the assets of a deceased individual under the supervision of a court. The more court supervision the process requires the more expensive and time-consuming it will be – this is the main reason families establish a Trust. Trusts minimize the court process because Trusts allow Trustees to resolve many of the administrative tasks without court involvement; thereby saving time and money. However, while many attorney advertisements scream “Avoid Probate!” to entice you into purchasing a Trust, there are good legal reasons to minimize administration rather than completely avoiding the court process.
Often, the best strategy is to MINIMIZE the assets going through PROBATE. If you establish a Trust and a Pour-Over Will that puts anything not already in Trust into the Trust when you die, then you have the beginnings of a plan to protect you assets while keeping control of the process in the hands of your beloved Trustee. Keep in mind, that those minimal assets in probate are exposed to government examination and court management, but it can also help to protect your estate from creditors’ claims by requiring those creditors to make claims within 90 days of Notification. On the other hand, choosing to avoid probate completely will leave your estate open to creditors’ claims for up to 2 years. Because of this, it’s usually best to craft a plan that helps you minimize your exposure to probate through a trust and a pour-over will, and then to open a Probate for a minimal amount of assets. This strategy allows you to foreclose creditors’ claims as soon as possible.
Key Considerations Of Incorporating Real Estate Assets Into Your Estate Planning
Arguably one of the most important elements of estate planning, there are two major concerns regarding real estate assets: protecting the asset and ensuring the seamless transition of ownership.
In the context of asset protection, Florida offers a legal ownership option known as tenancy by the entirety. Owning property this way can be a powerful strategy – particularly beneficial for couples in stable marriages. Generally, this provision shields the property from creditors by considering it as completely and jointly owned by the married couple. Because there is not a separable interest, a creditor cannot recover by seizing the asset unless both parties are liable for the debt or judgment being collected. Of course, every situation is unique and there are always exceptions so be sure to consult your attorney if this is a strategy that interests you. On the other hand, Revocable Living Trusts in Florida are not particularly helpful for asset protection.
Now, when it comes to executing a seamless transition of ownership, we embrace the transformative power of a revocable living trust. With a trust in place, property ownership passes to your chosen Trustee, upon your death. Generally, sidestepping the probate process that involves court scrutiny. This is especially valuable if your loved ones live far away or if the asset itself is in another state.
In these situations, the Trustee is empowered by the revocable living trust and they can effectively manage real estate assets in other states without requiring a ancillary probate process. Ancillary is another way of saying – pay another lawyer in another state yet another fee to conduct yet another Probate and administration process. This benefit alone carries significant financial implications, potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars in probate-related expenses.
For more information on The Probate Process In The State Of Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (904) 650-4262today.