Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A. - Elder Law

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Avoiding probate with beneficiary designations

No matter how large or small a Florida estate may be, it may be a person’s intent to avoid probate. There are several options to do this including adding a transfer on death (TOD) deed on property such as a home or car. It may also be possible to add a person as a beneficiary to investment or bank accounts. This may be ideal because typically a home or car would have to go through probate.

This is because they are listed in the deceased name’s only with no designated beneficiary. It is important to understand that creating the TOD deed only gives the named beneficiary the right to take ownership of the property after the owner dies. It does not create an ownership interest in the property while that person is still alive.

With proper planning today, it may be possible to make settling an estate a relatively easy and straightforward process. While probate may not always be the arduous process that it is made out to be, it may take time to complete. This may make it harder for beneficiaries to get access to their inheritance. Avoiding probate may also make the process of settling an estate a private affair.

In addition to the use of beneficiary designations, it may be possible to avoid probate by putting assets into a trust. A trust holds assets outside of an estate, which means that there is nothing to probate. It may be a good idea to talk about trusts or other estate planning strategies with an attorney. Legal counsel may be available to review any estate plan documents that an individual may have drafted previously.