Protect Your Assets from Probate
Probate can be a very complicated, public, costly, and lengthy process that most families would like to avoid. Luckily, there are ways to spare our families from the hassle of probate altogether.
Let’s discuss some ways you can protect your assets from probate in Florida.
Joint Ownership of Property
This is probably the most simple way of avoiding probate. Owning property jointly with someone else (married or not) often includes the “right of survivorship” – which means that when one owner dies, ownership of the assets passes to the other owner. Sometimes paperwork will have to be filled out to ensure the smooth transfer of full ownership, but it is much less complicated and expensive than going to probate court.
Create a Living Trust
Bank accounts, vehicles, real estate, etc – virtually anything can be put into a living trust in Florida.
Here are the steps to create a living trust to avoid probate court:
- Create a trust document. This document is similar to a will.
- Name a successor trustee to take over after your death.
- Transfer ownership of the assets to yourself as the trustee of the trust.
- Upon your death, the successor trustee will be allowed to transfer the trust assets to the trust beneficiaries, thus avoiding probate court.
Payable-On-Death Bank (POD) Designation
You can add a POD designation on certificates of deposit or savings accounts. The POD beneficiary has no rights to the money until your death, so you can still have full control of your accounts for as long as possible. Upon your death, your beneficiary can request access to those funds directly from the bank, thus avoiding probate court.
Transfer-On-Death (TOD) for Securities
You can register securities – such as stocks and bonds – for TOD. This is how people usually hold brokerage accounts. When accounts are registered as TOD, the beneficiary will inherit them automatically upon your death. The beneficiary deals directly with the brokerage company to transfer the account, which avoids probate court altogether.
Enhanced Life Estate (or “Lady Bird”) Deeds for Real Estate
TOD deeds are not allowed in real estate in Florida, but enhanced life estate deed (or “Lady Bird Deeds”) function similarly to TOD deeds. However, these types of deeds are uncommon, and are best drafted by attorneys, like us at Easy Estate Probate.
If you would like to take all of the steps you can to help your family avoid probate court in Florida, contact us at Easy Estate Probate for a FREE case review.