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3 reasons to consider avoiding probate

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Probate

Probate is often a pivotal step of estate administration, demanding full transparency over all actions taken toward executing a will. This legal process ensures all assets are accounted for, the estate’s taxes and debts are paid and assets are handed to the rightful beneficiaries. However, despite its structured approach, probate can have significant drawbacks.

Why people avoid probate

As you map out your estate plan, you may encounter compelling arguments for avoiding probate. Among the most common include:

  1. Privacy concerns: Probate proceedings in Florida are public. This means the details of your estate, including debts, beneficiaries, assets and related information will be accessible to those who search for it. This could expose private matters to public scrutiny.
  2. Costs: The costs associated with probate, such as attorney’s fees, filing fees, executor fees and other expenses, can take up a sizable portion of an estate. This may reduce the amount you intended for your beneficiaries.
  3. Time: Probate is often lengthy, sometimes stretching from several months to over a year. This delay is mainly due to the extensive legal and administrative work involved, where each step requires due process. As a result, your heirs may have to wait a long time before they can access their inheritance.

If these considerations resonate with you, the good news is that there are several ways available for you to transfer assets without going through probate.

Alternatives to probate

Here are some options to look into:

  • Living trusts: Set aside assets in a living trust with detailed instructions for distribution. Upon your death, the trustee can distribute the assets directly to your beneficiaries.
  • Life insurance: Designate a beneficiary for your policy, allowing the death benefit to pass directly to them.
  • Gifts: Gifting assets may be the easiest way to avoid probate. However, due to IRS limitations, exceeding the threshold may result in hefty gift taxes.
  • Pay-on-death accounts: Set up a POD bank account with a named beneficiary who can claim the assets upon your death.

Each alternative has its pros and cons. Whether you go for probate or find another way to transfer assets, consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney may provide valuable insights. They can evaluate your needs and direct you toward the most suitable option, crafting a plan tailored for you if necessary.


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