If you have a Florida will, your estate may pass through probate faster than if you die without one, but particular assets are still subject to the process. Going one step further and creating an estate plan can increase the amount of non-probate assets, saving your loved ones time and money.
According to the Florida Bar, probate helps tie up the loose ends of your financial affairs and passes ownership of certain assets to your beneficiaries. However, some portions of your estate can bypass the court and transfer directly to your heirs.
If you have a will, chances are, you appointed a personal representative. This person’s duties include inventorying assets, paying bills, distributing property, filing taxes, and submitting a final account. Depending on the contents of your estate, this process can become time-consuming and costly. Probate assets are those in your name alone, such as the following:
- Personal bank accounts
- Real property
- Digital assets including websites, cryptocurrency, online savings and investment accounts
- Tangible personal property such as automobiles, art, boats, furniture and jewelry
- Brokerage or life insurance policies that list you or your estate as the beneficiary
- Interest in a corporation, limited liability company or partnership
You can avoid a lot of the probate hassle by having primarily non-probate assets.
This portion of your estate encompasses assets that pass to your beneficiaries without going through probate. These assets exist solely in your name but have designations such as, in trust for, transfer on death or payable on death. Certain assets, including jointly owned marital property, recognized as tenants by the entirety, or those owned by a revocable living trust can avoid probate after you die. Accounts with a designated beneficiary such as IRA’s, 401(k)s, life insurance and annuities can skip probate unless your beneficiary predeceases you.
An estate plan can help you ensure more of your property stays with your beneficiaries and minimizes the cost of probate. Have questions about Florida probate? Learn more here.