Could You Avoid the Probate Process?
When an individual passes away, his or her will goes through probate court. While many estates go through this process, it might not be relevant to all estates. The following criteria may be used to determine whether or not a person’s estate may be able to avoid probate:
- Common assets: Not all of a decedent’s property must go through probate. Common assets are not included in the probate process and can be quickly handled according to the decedent’s wishes. These assets may include retirement accounts and life insurance policies with a designated beneficiary, property that shares ownership with a living individual and payable-on-death bank accounts.
- Existence of trusts: If the decedent created a living trust for a loved one, the funds in that account will not be subject to probate court. This is because ownership of the funds has already been transferred to a trustee, who oversees the assets and ensures they are appropriately distributed to beneficiaries.
- Sole ownership: When assets are not jointly owned with a survivor or do not have a predesignated beneficiary, it could be necessary for property to go through the probate process. Such property could include any bank accounts, investments or other assets that were the exclusive property of the decedent. Through probate court, a beneficiary will be named as the rightful owner of that property.
- Small estates: According to Florida law, probate might not be necessary for estates that are considered “small.” To qualify as a small estate, the decedent’s total asset value must be $75,000 or less, and survivors must submit a petition to be exempted from probate.
For further guidance on finalizing your loved one’s estate, speak with a dedicated Tampa probate attorney at BaumannKangas Estate Law.