There are Florida estate planning tools you should consider using to protect your assets, and most importantly, your loved ones. With these tools, you can specify how you want your property and affairs to be handled in the event of your death or incapacity.
Estate planning is not only for the wealthy or the elderly. Anyone who owns property, has dependents, or cares about their future should have an estate plan. Without one, you risk leaving your family with a legal mess, unnecessary taxes, and potential conflicts.
Fortunately, Florida offers a variety of tools that can help you achieve your goals and avoid probate, which is the costly and time-consuming court-supervised process of validating and administering your estate after your death.
Here are some of the most common and effective Florida estate planning tools you should consider using:
Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament is a document that allows you to name the beneficiaries of your property, appoint an executor to manage your estate, and designate a guardian for your minor children. A will is essential for any estate plan, as it gives you the opportunity to express your preferences and provide for your loved ones.
However, your will must be submitted to the probate court and validated before it can be executed. This means that your estate will be subject to the probate process, which can take months or even years to complete.
A trust is a legal arrangement that allows you to name a trustee, who holds and manages your assets for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries.
A trust can be created during your lifetime (a living trust) or upon your death (a testamentary trust). A trust can also be revocable (meaning you can change or cancel it) or irrevocable (meaning you cannot).
One of the main advantages of a trust is that it avoids probate. The assets in the trust do not belong to your estate, so they do not have to go through the probate process. Instead, the trustee can distribute them to the beneficiaries according to your instructions without court intervention.
Another benefit of a trust is that it allows you to have more control over how your property is used and distributed. You can set specific conditions and terms for the trust, such as when and how much the beneficiaries receive, what they can use it for, and who can manage it.
A beneficiary designation is a simple way to transfer certain types of assets without probate. It involves naming a person or entity as the recipient of the asset upon your death. You can do this by filling out a form provided by the institution that holds the asset, such as a bank, brokerage firm, or insurance company.
Some of the assets that can be transferred via a beneficiary designation are:
- Bank accounts
- Investment accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Life insurance policies
To avoid probate using beneficiary designations, you need to make sure that they are up-to-date and consistent with your other estate planning documents. You also need to avoid naming your estate as the beneficiary.
Another way to transfer property without probate is by owning it jointly with another person. This means that both of you have equal rights and interests in the property, and that the property automatically passes to the surviving owner upon the death of the other.
There are two main types of joint ownership in Florida:
- Joint tenancy with right of survivorship: This form of joint ownership applies to any type of property, such as real estate, bank accounts, or vehicles. However, the owners must:
- Acquire the property at the same time, with the same title, and with the same interest; and
- Explicitly state their intention to create a joint tenancy with right of survivorship in the deed or document that transfers the property.
- Tenancy by the entirety: This form of joint ownership applies only to married couples and only to real estate. It provides additional protection from creditors, as neither spouse can sell or encumber the property without the consent of the other.
Joint ownership can be a convenient and simple way to avoid probate; however, it also has some drawbacks. For instance, you lose some control over your property, as you cannot sell or transfer it without the agreement of the other owner.
Looking to Create Florida Estate Planning Tools? We Can Help You
Estate planning tools can help you protect your property and your family. However, estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all solution. You need to consider your unique situation, needs, and preferences, and choose the tools that best suit you.
That is why you need the guidance and assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney.
At Jurado & Associates, P.A., we have the knowledge and skills to help you design and implement a customized estate plan that reflects your wishes and values.
We are here to help you achieve peace of mind and security for yourself and your loved ones. Contact us today by phone at (305) 921-0976, by email at [email protected], or by WhatsApp at +1 (305) 921-0976 to schedule an initial consultation.