Probate, which involves legally identifying, gathering, and distributing a deceased person’s assets to beneficiaries under court supervision, is time-consuming, expensive, and public in Florida. You may be looking for ways to avoid it, either as a grantor or as a potential beneficiary. You can name beneficiaries to existing accounts, explore trusts, and title the property so it passes to the person you determine. 

You cannot escape formal probate administration by failing to draft a will. If you die intestate (without a will) a Judge-appointed personal representative will escort your assets through the probate process. To understand how to avoid probate in Kendall, our knowledgeable probate law attorneys will advise you according to your unique situation.

How Probate is Conducted

Probate begins when an interested party (a personal representative named in a will or appointed by a Probate Judge, a spouse, child, or other beneficiary) files a petition to start the administration of an estate. State law guide the process as adopted by the state legislature.

The personal representative notifies the decedent’s creditors, who can file claims in probate court for money owed to them. Creditor claims are settled by selling some of the assets before any other assets can be transferred to beneficiaries or heirs. Probate concludes with a Judge’s order discharging the personal representative and conveying the legal title of probate assets.

Primary Ways to Avoid Probate

Many people in Kendall and across the state wish to avoid probate because it involves filing complicated legal documents and attending court hearings. The legal record is public to anyone who wants access and families awaiting inheritances often must be patient for six months or more. Knowing the pitfalls of probate, here are the main ways to avoid the process:

  • Titling real estate in joint tenancy with right of survivorship (JTWROS);
  • Add a beneficiary to retirement and financial accounts;
  • Adopt a living trust;
  • Use lady bird deeds;
  • Disburse assets as gifts while still alive.

Some of these suggestions are self-explanatory, such as naming who will inherit bank or retirement accounts upon the owner’s death; and purchasing property with a spouse in joint tenancy, where a surviving spouse automatically owns the property when the co-owning spouse dies. Some suggestions need further consultation. Kendall attorneys are the best source for knowledge concerning probate and can meet with beneficiaries, trustees, personal representatives, and individuals exploring estate planning

Clarification on Some Methods to Avoid Probate

Disbursing assets during one’s lifetime can help avoid probate. State residents can gift up to a certain amount without owing federal taxes. Gifting more than that amount means filing a gift tax return but it still does not warrant paying taxes until the lifetime amount is met. 

Living trusts are the most often employed way to avoid probate. Creators set up trusts during their lifetime and can amend or revoke them at any time prior to death, with the creator being the trustee and entitled to the trust income. Beneficiaries and a successor trustee are named and assets are transferred outside of probate when the creator dies.

Lady bird deeds transfer real property to future beneficiaries and allow the grantor to control the property during their lifetime (a life estate). Probate is not an issue because the grantor’s rights die with them and the beneficiary is recognized as the legal owner.

Avoid Probate in Kendall by Calling a Lawyer Today

There are ways to control and disburse your assets without subjecting them to the probate process when you die. State and some federal law provide guidance on how avoiding probate is done but it can be complicated. It may be worth it if you do not want details of your probate estate available to the public and you wish your beneficiaries to receive their inheritances more quickly and with less expense.

The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm offers a free case evaluation to determine the best way for you to enjoy your assets during your lifetime and leave them to heirs and beneficiaries with limited or no probate. We also meet with beneficiaries who need to understand the process and with trustees named as successors to living wills. Call us today to discuss how to avoid probate in Kendall, FL.