VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Deciding whether or not to avoid probate

The probate process has many pros and cons for those who live in Florida or elsewhere. Some of the benefits include the ability to challenge a will and the fact that probate can verify who has the title to a given asset. Probate is a public process, which means that there is less of a chance to hide any shady or illegal dealings by an executor.

However, the fact that information about an estate is made public may also be discouraging to those who value their privacy. In many cases, only a portion of an estate is subject to probate. Typically, an individual will base his or her decision to avoid probate based on privacy concerns as well as where assets are located. Those who own real estate in multiple states may have to go through probate in each state where the real property was owned.

It may also be important to consider the probate rules in the state where a person lives. Many states have overhauled their probate procedures, which may make them easier to navigate. This may be especially true for those who may not have a high net worth. Assets may be kept out of probate by being put into a trust or if they are jointly owned.

The use of wills, trusts and other estate plan documents may help to ensure a person's wishes are met after his or her death. Putting assets into a trust may help them to avoid probate, which may make it easier to transfer them to their intended beneficiaries. An attorney may be able to help an individual decide whether or not some or all assets should avoid going through probate. An attorney may also review an existing estate plan to determine if it meets a person's needs as constructed.

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