Chances Are When You Have A Will You Are Headed To Probate


With research telling us that less than half of all Americans have an estate plan in place today, taking the time to create one is a tremendous accomplishment. Estate planning takes careful time and consideration as you decide what you would want to happen at both a time when you are no longer alive and a time when you no longer have the capacity to care or make decisions for yourself. When you decide to not only protect yourself but those you love most, you are giving yourself and your family the peace of mind that can only come from a comprehensive Florida estate plan.

We find the main goals of those who are creating a Florida estate plan centers on the fact that they want to ensure their families will not face:

  • Conflict within the family,
  • Public knowledge of their personal affairs,
  • Additional costs and expenses,
  • Unexpected or required court involvement, and
  • Uncertainty during the grieving process.

What many of the clients who come to us to help them do not realize is that if these are among their goals for their Florida estate, then a last will and testament will not be enough to protect them.

We understand this seems counterintuitive; shouldn’t a last will and testament be able to avoid any future involvement from the courts, creditors, or others at the time of their death? One might think so, but unfortunately, the probate process is all but assured when you only have a will as a part of your estate plan.

The reason why is because a last will and testament is a set of instructions only. It instructs who should inherit from you, how they should inherit from you, and the manner of this inheritance. Your last will and testament will also nominate the person, or persons, you want to be in charge of the process.

It does not, however, take your estate assets out of your name. This means that legal ownership will be determined, with the guidance of your will, through the probate process. The probate process tends to be costly, time intensive, and public. Your Florida last will and testament will not be able to avoid this process at the time of your death.

How then can you plan forward to avoid the probate process? The Florida estate planning answer is to create a Florida trust agreement. Through your trust agreement you can “fund” or retitle your assets into the name of this Florida estate planning tool to be held and administered in the way you see fit. This ensures that at the time of your incapacity or death these assets can be held under the management of the trustee you choose and avoid court involvement of any kind. There are many different kinds of Florida trust agreements that can be created to meet your needs and reach your goals for your legacy. While there is an administration at the time of your death or incapacity, it is not the same as the court process you would encounter without this essential Florida estate planning tool in place.

We can help use this estate planning tool to reach your goals and understand how important this is to your goals.  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.

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