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How To Avoid Three Common Mistakes That Lead To Probate


Probate is a legal process during which the assets of a decedent are gathered and identified, the decedent’s debts are paid, and assets of the deceased are distributed to the beneficiaries. Although it is sometimes necessary, probate is a long and expensive process and it can result in family members waiting long periods of time before they receive their inheritance.

There are many tools you can use to avoid probate, but common mistakes are often made that render these tools ineffective. Below, our St. Petersburg probate and trust administration lawyer outlines the three most common mistakes that lead to probate, and how to avoid them.

Only Creating a Last Will and Testament

Many people think they only need to create a Last Will and Testament to avoid probate. Drafting a Last Will and Testament is very important and you should have one in place. However, creating a Will does not avoid probate. Unlike other estate planning tools, a Will based estate plan is not enough to avoid probate, so if you have a Will as your only estate planning tool, your assets will pass through probate in order to be distributed in accordance with the terms of your Will. There are ways to still avoid probate with a Will as your primary estate planning tool, so we recommend you discuss with an attorney how to avoid probate if your only estate planning tool is a Will.

Failing to Update the Terms of a Trust

Revocable trusts are very effective tools that can help your loved ones avoid the probate process altogether. A trust is a legal document in which assets can be placed, thereby protecting them from the probate process. Trusts are living documents, though, and they must be regularly updated to ensure they align with your current wishes.  After you have created your trust, your family situation or feelings about your beneficiaries may change over time. It is important to review your trust periodically to ensure you still want your assets to pass in the same manner as specified in your trust document.

Relying on Your Trust Alone

At the end of your life, you may have assets that were never placed into your trust. If you do not places these assets into your trust, they will have to pass through probate. A pour-over Will is one way to ensure that if you forget to re-title an asset into your trust, that asset will still pass according to the terms of your trust. However, a pour-over Will still requires a probate, so it is important to remember to title all of your assets into your trust during your lifetime if your goal is to avoid probate.

Our Probate and Trust Administration Lawyers in St. Petersburg Can Help Your Family Avoid Probate

To ensure that your family members can avoid the probate process after you pass away, it is important to speak to a St. Petersburg probate and trust administration lawyer. At Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, our seasoned attorneys can provide the sound legal advice you need and make sure all the tools are in place that will allow your loved ones to avoid the probate process. Call us now at 727-471-5868 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help.




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