Estate planning is as much about maximizing what people receive as it is about controlling who receives which assets. One of the ways that people lose property that they would like to pass to their loved ones or possibly charitable organizations is through probate expenses and creditor claims filed in probate court.
Therefore, many testators putting together an estate plan will use every means available to keep their estates – or at least their most valuable assets – out of probate court. These are the most common tactics that people employ to bypass probate oversight when transferring property to others as part of their estate.
Transfer on death designations
If someone has financial accounts, like a large retirement savings account or investments held at a brokerage, it is possible to complete special paperwork that will allow for the transfer of specific accounts to a chosen beneficiary when someone dies. The direct transfer of ownership after someone’s death will require the beneficiary present documentation to the financial institution, but the process is relatively straightforward and does not involve the courts.
Assets held in a trust will not become part of someone’s estate because they no longer directly own that property instead, the trustee that they have named will continue to follow the instructions they provided regarding the distribution of trust resources. Trust can hold someone’s largest assets, including their real property, and can also provide better control over how their beneficiaries make use of inherited resources after they die.
If someone owns real property and does not want to use a trust to hold that property, then executing a deed can be a way to facilitate the transfer of that property to another occupant when the current owner dies. Holding real property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship will allow either party to inherit the ownership interest of the other without probate proceedings when either owner dies.
Florida residents who seek legal guidance and carefully plan ahead to facilitate the smooth transfer of their most valuable resources when they die may be able to more effectively maximize what they leave for their loved ones.