Are there ways to avoid ancillary probate in Florida if you have assets in this state but live elsewhere? The answer is yes.
Below, we will explain what ancillary probate is, why you should avoid it, and how you can do so with the help of a qualified Florida probate attorney.
What is Ancillary Probate?
In Florida, ancillary probate is a type of probate proceeding that takes place when a non-resident dies owning property in the state. Ancillary probate is a secondary probate proceeding that is required in addition to the main probate proceeding that takes place in the state where the decedent was a resident.
For example, if you live in New York and own a vacation home in Florida, your estate will have to go through probate in both states. The New York probate will be the primary or domiciliary probate, and the Florida probate will be the ancillary probate.
Why Should You Avoid Ancillary Probate?
There are several reasons why you should take steps to avoid ancillary probate in Florida, such as:
- It can increase the costs and fees associated with settling your estate. You may have to pay court fees, personal representative fees, taxes, and other expenses in both states.
- It can delay the distribution of your assets to your heirs or beneficiaries. You may have to wait for both probate proceedings to be completed before your property can be transferred to your intended recipients.
- It can expose your estate to additional taxes and liabilities. You may have to pay estate taxes or inheritance taxes in both states, depending on the value of your property and the tax laws of each state. You may also have to deal with creditor claims or legal challenges in both states.
- It can reduce your privacy and control over your estate. Your probate records will be public in both states, which means anyone can access them and see what you owned and who you left it to.
How Can You Avoid Ancillary Probate in Florida?
Some of the most common methods are:
- Transferring your property to a living trust.
A living trust is a legal entity that holds your property for your benefit during your lifetime, and for the benefit of your chosen beneficiaries after your death. By transferring your property to a living trust, you can avoid probate altogether, since the trust owns the property and not you.
In addition, you can name a trustee to manage the trust according to your instructions and avoid court supervision and interference.
- Transferring your property to a joint owner with rights of survivorship.
If you own property with another person as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, you can avoid probate for that property when one of you dies. The surviving joint owner will automatically inherit the property without the need for probate.
However, this method has some drawbacks, such as losing sole control over the property, exposing it to the other owner’s creditors or liabilities, and potentially triggering gift taxes or capital gains taxes.
- Transferring your property through beneficiary designations.
Some types of property allow you to name a beneficiary who will inherit the property upon your death without going through probate. These include bank accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and annuities.
- Transferring your property by gift or sale during your lifetime.
Another way to avoid ancillary probate is to simply get rid of your property before you die. You can give it away as a gift or sell it.
However, this method may also have some disadvantages, such as losing the use and enjoyment of the property, triggering gift taxes or income taxes, and reducing your estate tax exemption.
We Can Help You
If you want to avoid ancillary probate in Florida, you need the guidance and assistance of an experienced Florida Probate Attorney who can help you plan ahead and protect your interests.
At Jurado & Associates, P.A., we are committed to providing our clients with exceptional service and results-oriented solutions. We have the knowledge and expertise to handle all aspects of Florida ancillary probate proceedings as well as alternative methods to avoid them.
We understand that every client’s situation is unique and requires personalized attention and care. We will listen to your needs and objectives, explain your options and their implications, and help you implement the best strategy for your case.
If you are a non-resident of Florida and you own property in the Sunshine State, do not wait until it is too late to avoid ancillary probate. Contact us today by phone at (305) 921-0976, by email at [email protected], or via WhatsApp at +1 (305) 921-0976, and let us help you achieve your goals.