Why You Should Plan Ahead to Reduce Problems with Probate

Why You Should Plan Ahead to Reduce Problems with Probate

When someone passes away owning assets in his or her individual name, his or her assets must go through probate, a process to insure that the estate assets are distributed to the proper beneficiaries. To help streamline this process, it’s important to set up a strong estate plan and make sure your loved ones are aware of your wishes.

The probate process is helpful in settling an estate, but the process can be time consuming and costly to your family members and friends. There are certain steps you may take if you plan ahead that will allow this process to move more quickly. And in some cases, your beneficiaries may be able to skip the probate process completely.

Mechanisms to avoid probate

One key factor to note is that only property in the deceased person’s name is subject to probate. If you would like to plan ahead to avoid this process, you may transfer property to a family member before your death. It’s important to be aware that if you do that, you have made a gift to that person and that person has no obligation to share the gift with anyone else.

Property held in a living trust is also not subject to probate. Assets placed in a trust are retitled in the name of the trustee of that trust, and the trustee then technically owns them.  However, a written trust agreement imposes a duty on the trustee to distribute the assets to others on your death. You may establish a trust to transfer ownership of the assets at the time of your death so they pass to your beneficiaries without the need for probate.

There are many ways to avoid probate by planning ahead and getting started early on when it comes to organizing your estate. To learn more about moving forward, speak with a dedicated Florida estate planning attorney at BaumannKangas Estate Law.