The loss of a loved one is a stressful and emotional time. For many Florida families grieving the losses of relatives, one of the last things that they will want to think about is the settlement of the decedents’ estates. When a person dies their property and assets must be accounted for and distributed, and their estate plan can help direct these important tasks.
Probate is the legal process that manages the collection and distribution of a person’s end-of-life estate. Although it serves an important function, many individuals do what they can to avoid having their assets pass through it when they die. This post will explore some of the reasons that individuals try to avoid probate, but no part of this post should be read as legal or financial advice.
The problems of probate
Though probate serves a useful role in tying up the loose ends of a decedent’s estate, it is not without drawbacks. One reason that some estate planners attempt to avoid it all together is that it can be a long process. It can take months and sometimes longer to find and account for all of a decedent’s assets and property. And as the administration of the probate process drags on, the cost of the process increases. Paying for probate comes out of a decedent’s estate, and as its duration extends, the assets left over may significantly diminish.
There are many ways to avoid probate and to protect one’s assets from getting caught in the legal process. Different estate planning tools like revocable living trusts can organize the distribution of assets in such a way that they are no longer part of the decedent’s estate at the end of their life. Similarly, gifting during one’s lifetime can reduce their estate and help them avoid having their property and money depleted during probate.
There is no one way to avoid the probate process. When preparing an estate plan, a person can talk to their attorney about their options to reduce the impact of probate on their estate.