What You Cannot Change by Avoiding Probate
Avoiding probate is one of the more common goals people have when they’re engaged in estate planning.
Although there are numerous trusts and other estate planning tools that can help you circumvent probate, it is important to remember that bypassing probate does not allow you to avoid other important obligations. Below are a few examples of things you cannot change or sidestep by bypassing probate:
- Taxes: You cannot escape tax liability if the amount of your taxable assets is over the estate tax cap. You may use certain types of trusts to reduce the amount of taxable assets you have. The assets placed in an irrevocable trust, for example, usually cannot be taxed at all. However, avoiding probate is not a means of avoiding or decreasing your tax liability.
- Inheritance rights: In certain circumstances, family members have a right to claim at least some of the property left behind after your death, regardless of the probate avoidance techniques you use. Surviving spouses, for example, are entitled to at least some property. While your children do not have this right, they may end up with some, regardless of your intent — unless you specifically disinherit them.
- Creditors’ rights: You are always responsible for fulfilling your debts to your creditors. If you did not leave behind enough money to pay off these debts, any assets that bypassed probate could still be subject to creditors’ claims.
For more information on what avoiding probate can and cannot do for your estate, work with an experienced Tampa, Florida estate planning lawyer at BaumannKangas Estate Law.