Living in Florida sure does have its perks! You’re never too far from a gorgeous beach, you’re greeted with warm weather and blue skies almost daily and you can make weekly trips to Disney (if you really wanted to).  Unfortunately, being a resident of Florida also means you or your loved ones could be subjected to the state’s probate process.  When compared to other states in our country, Florida’s probate process is known to be both higher in costs and last a great deal longer.  With proper planning and funding, you can ensure your loved ones avoid this tedious and emotional process.

There are two ways in which property can pass at death: through a Will or a Will substitute. The goal for every individual should be to have their assets controlled by a Will substitute.  Some examples of Will substitutes include joint ownership of accounts, beneficiary designation, pay on death or transfer on death designations and life insurance.  These Will substitutes allow for assets to pass by operation of law to the named beneficiary, therefore avoiding probate.  A Living Trust is another Will substitute which allows your assets to pass outside of Probate.  Think of the trust as a durable safe that has been built to hold your all of your assets.  Once your attorney has built your “safe” you take it home and put it away because now you’re done, right? Wrong!  If you fail to put anything into this“safe” then nothing has been accomplished.  You must fund your trust.

Funding may seem like a scary concept since you are titling assets in the name of the trust or listing the trust as beneficiary. Have no fear! You, as grantor and trustee of your Living Trust, remain in complete control of these assets until your death.  Therefore, you can carry on as usual and continue to control your assets in the same manner.  As part of your trust based plan, you will receive an Assignment of Property, a document that will ensure that all of your personal property makes its way into your trust.  In addition to the Assignment of Property, you will also receive a Pour Over Will.  This Will will act as a safety net for any accounts you may have forgotten to add to your trust.  Beware, however, that these accounts will have to go through the Probate process before the trust will control the manner in which they are distributed.  This further illustrates the importance of properly designating your accounts and funding your trust ahead of time to avoid Probate altogether.  It should be clear at this point that funding is the final and perhaps most crucial part of the estate planning process.  Fund your trust with the assets you wish to protect and those assets will avoid probate.

If you have a trust or are considering creating a trust then know the attorneys at Wild, Felice& Partners are proud of you but don’t stop there. Take that final step and ensure your trust is properly funded so those assets remain safe and avoid Probate.  Protect yourself and your family.  Call us today for your free consultation at (954) 944-2855.

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