Orlando Probate Avoidance Lawyer
Avoiding or Minimizing Probate
Probate is the legal process involved in gathering and distributing the assets of a deceased person according to the terms of the will and the requirements of Florida probate law. Probate can be both expensive and time-consuming. Avoiding or minimizing the time and expense of probate is a worthy goal that should be considered in conjunction with the other goals associated with estate planning. The Orlando estate planning attorneys at Gierach and Gierach, P.A. will advise you on your options to minimize the probate of your estate and help you create a comprehensive estate plan that meets all your overall goals, including avoiding or minimizing probate to the extent possible. See more below about how to keep assets from being probated, and contact Gierach and Gierach, P.A. to discuss your estate planning needs with our experienced and professional Orlando probate lawyers.
Transfer title to property during your lifetime to avoid probate
The probate process involves transferring property from one owner (the deceased) to another (the beneficiary). If you want to keep an asset from having to be probated, you will need to transfer title to the asset during your lifetime. There are many ways to do this without necessarily giving up complete control of the asset while you are still living. For instance, the following assets would not have to go through the probate process in order to transfer the asset to the beneficiary:
- Life insurance policies with a designated beneficiary
- Pension plans with a designated beneficiary
- Jointly titled personal property, such as putting two people on a car title
- Jointly titled real property, such as owning real estate as tenants in common or joint tenants with a right of survivorship
- Joint bank accounts
- Bank accounts with “payable on death” or “transfer on death” provisions
Another way to avoid probate is through the use of revocable living trusts. When property is held in trust, the trustee holds “legal title” to the property and manages it for the benefit of the beneficiary, who holds “equitable title.” When the settlor (the person creating the trust) dies, full title passes to the beneficiary without having to go through probate. A “living” or “inter vivos” trust is one which becomes effective at the point it is created, as opposed to a “testamentary trust,” which only becomes effective upon death. However, since the trust is revocable, it can be revoked or changed during the settlor’s lifetime if your needs or desires change.
Don’t focus on probate avoidance without considering your overall estate planning goals
Avoiding or minimizing probate is an important aspect of estate planning, but it is not the only reason or even the most important reason for estate planning. It’s important not to blindly rush in to jointly titling assets or purchasing insurance policies solely to minimize probate, because these steps are hard to undo and may not fit with your overall estate planning goals. Instead, take the time to sit down with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney who can help you understand all the different options and how they fit in with your overall goals. Your attorney can advise you on the best steps to take while assisting you in drafting wills, trusts and other important legal documents for a comprehensive estate plan that meets all your needs.
Help with Florida Estate Planning from a Dedicated Orlando Estate Planning Lawyer
For practical advice and professional assistance with estate planning in Florida, including avoiding or minimizing probate to the extent practicable, contact Gierach and Gierach, P.A. at 407-894-6941 or online for a free initial consultation with a caring and experienced Orlando estate planning lawyer.