Are you a Florida resident? Do you want to have your estate avoid probate when you pass away? In fact, are you planning for your estate to not go through probate when you pass away because you have created a Florida last will and testament? The fact that you have created a Florida last will and testament is excellent! However, the error is thinking that because you have a last will and testament your estate will now be able to avoid probate. Are there any other errors to think about when trying to avoid probate? We encourage you to keep reading.
First, your Florida last will and testament is one of many estate planning tools. Your will is actually a set of instructions for your personal representative, who was chosen by you when you created your will. Your will directs your personal representative, with written instructions, in how to distribute all of your assets. Your assets may include a house, investment property, vehicles, bank or brokerage accounts or personal items. Upon your passing, your personal representative will be required to probate your will. Probate takes time and, possibly, money from your estate. With all that in mind, you should consider other estate planning tools if you want to keep your assets out of probate.
Another estate planning tool you might want to consider in order to avoid probate is a trust. We recommend you meet with your Florida estate planning attorney to discuss the addition of a trust to your estate plan. He may advise that a revocable trust might be a good way to avoid putting your estate through probate. In addition to creating your trust, your Florida estate planning attorney will guide you in putting your current assets into your trust. Once you have worked with your Florida estate planning attorney and created and funded your trust, you may think you are done. However, that would be an error in thinking. As time passes, there may be many changes in your assets, you may sell some assets and acquire other assets. The changes in your assets should be reflected in your trust. Do not forget to put your new assets into your trust. Be aware that only the assets in your trust will avoid probate. Any other assets you may have acquired, but forgot or erred to put into the trust, will have to go through probate unless they have a co-owner or named beneficiaries.
Making a plan to meet at least once every 2-3 years with your Florida estate planning attorney is a good goal to keep your estate plan error free. You and your attorney can look at all your estate planning tools to make sure they are up-to-date.
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.