With all the media buzz over the recent passing of musical genius Prince you’re likely hearing a lot about Probate and may be wondering what the heck it is and why you should care.  Florida has one of the worst Probate systems in our country which is why it is so important to take the time to understand the process and plan accordingly.

What is it and why should I care?

If you pass away with assets left by Will then your assets must go through the Probate process.  Probate is the legal process of proving a Will in court.  The size of your estate will determine which type of probate administration will be necessary.  A smaller estate (one where the assets are valued at less than $75,000) will require a Summary administration.  Summary administration is less costly but may still last as long as a year, which means your beneficiaries will have to wait quite some time before receiving whatever is you left them (no matter how much they may need the assistance).  If your estate is worth more than $75,000, then your estate will require a full administration which is very costly and can take years before it is finished.  At a time when everyone should be focused on grieving and healing, they will instead be forced to deal with the judicial system and related stress that accompanies it.

Probate is time consuming, costly and offers no real benefit to the family members left behind which is why you should really consider avoiding it all together.

How can I avoid Probate?

Probate avoidance can be accomplished in a number of ways but the most favorable tends to be through a Revocable Living Trust.  By creating a Revocable Living Trust you not only ensure Probate avoidance but you remain in control of how your assets will be distributed.  If you die without an estate plan in place, you die intestate – which means that Florida intestate succession laws will decide who gets your assets.  By being proactive you remain in control of your assets, may be able to reduce estate taxes, can name guardians on behalf of your minor children and, of course, avoid probate.

For more information on Probate, Estate Planning, and Asset Protection, visit our website at www.wfplaw.com or call (954) 944-2855 for your free consultation.

It’s A Wild World.  Are You Protected? SM