Are you thinking about looking into ways your estate could avoid probate? Are you wanting to protect your beneficiaries from the often lengthy and expensive nature of the probate process? There may be several tools you can put in place to avoid probate. However, often mistakes are made which render these tools ineffective. There are three common mistakes we see and would like to share with you when someone tries to avoid probate.
Mistake #1. Only a last will and testament is needed. Many people believe that having a will in place will allow their estates to avoid probate, but that is a mistake. A will is a valuable tool to accomplish many of your estate planning goals, however, avoiding probate is not one of them.
Mistake #2. Not regularly updating a trust. Many people use estate tools, such as a revocable trust, to avoid probate. When assets are placed in a properly structured trust, then an estate may pass outside of the probate process. The mistake happens when, unfortunately, people forget to update this type of trust, and newly-acquired assets are never transferred into their trust. Therefore, the assets that fall outside of the trust will probably be subject to probate.
Mistake #3. Failing to name or update beneficiaries on assets that typically pass via designation. Some assets are set up to avoid probate by virtue of named beneficiaries, but those assets only avoid probate if beneficiaries have in fact been named (or updated in the event that beneficiaries are now deceased). Consequently, it is critically important for you to review the named beneficiaries on accounts like life insurance policies and 401k and IRA accounts on a regular basis to ensure consistency with your wishes.
Finally, if your goal is to avoid probate, you should consider seeking advice from your Florida estate planning attorney. There can be a great deal of value in establishing a will and properly structured trusts. Your attorney can be sure that an effective plan is put in place to accomplish your goal of your estate avoiding probate.
Our estate planning law firm takes a very different approach from what you might have come to expect. Our goal is to create lifelong relationships with each of our clients, to guide and manage your legacy for the rest of your life. Please contact our offices in Stuart and in Palm City to learn more.