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Four Ways To Avoid Probate


In some situations, probate is a necessary process after someone passes away. During probate, the nominated Personal Representative, also known as executor, of a deceased person’s Will distributes assets among beneficiaries, defends against challenges to a Will, and is responsible for paying the decedent’s debts. Probate can become costly and it can take months, or even years, before the process is completed. Fortunately, there are many tools available that can help your family members avoid the challenging process. Below, our St. Petersburg probate and trust administration lawyer explains what they are.

Owning Assets Jointly with Rights of Survivorship

One of the simplest ways to avoid probate is by owning assets jointly with another person as joint tenants with rights of survivorship or, if you are married, owning assets with your spouse as tenants by the entireties.  Both of these types of joint ownership result in the asset automatically passing to the surviving owner upon the death of the first owner. This is not true of all types of joint ownership, such as tenants in common, so it is important to be aware of how your assets are titled.

Create a Revocable Living Trust

You can create a revocable living trust during your lifetime and re-title your property into the trust. With a revocable living trust, you can make changes when needed and maintain control over the trust during your lifetime. People often name themselves as the initial trustee, but it is important to also name a successor trustee who can take over control of the trust after you pass away or during your lifetime if you become incapacitated. If your assets are titled in your trust at your death, those assets do not need to go through probate to be distributed to your beneficiaries.

Gifting Away Your Assets During Your Lifetime

Another way to avoid probate is to gift away your assets to your preferred beneficiaries during your lifetime. For example, if you transfer the title of your home into your child’s name, the asset does not need to go through probate, because your child is now the owner.  There are numerous tax consequences associated with this option, so be sure to consult an attorney before proceeding with this option.

Designate Beneficiaries on Eligible Accounts

Most financial accounts allow you to designate beneficiaries on the accounts. For example, you can name beneficiaries on a bank account by designating it as payable on death (“POD”). After you pass away, the funds in the account are then directly transferred to the beneficiary. When using this option, it is critical that you continue to review and update the beneficiaries on these accounts to ensure that the POD designation aligns with your current wishes.

Speak with Our Probate and Trust Administration Lawyers in St. Petersburg Today

If you are thinking about planning for your estate and want to avoid a lengthy process for your loved ones, our St. Petersburg probate and trust administration lawyers can help. At Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, our skilled attorneys can advise on the best ways to protect your property. Call us now at 727-471-5868 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.



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