If you are in the act of planning your estate or if you expect that a loved one will soon die, requiring you to handle their estate, you may wonder whether it’s possible for Florida estates to bypass the probate courts.
Probate court has a negative connotation for most people. They view it as expensive and time-consuming. However, not every case that goes through probate court has to take a long time or diminish an estate’s assets substantially. Circumstances involving challenges and contention are more likely to consume estate assets than standard probate administration.
Still, you may want to avoid probate if possible. Whether you are going to be an executor or are a testator planning your estate, is it possible to bypass the probate courts?
Florida does not have a financial cut-off for avoiding probate
Some states have laws that allow estates with lower overall values to sidestep the probate process. Florida is not one of those states. You do not have to have an estate worth six figures or real estate included among the assets of an estate for the probate courts to get involved. However, for estate with a total value of $75,000 or less, summary probate administration may be an option.
Summary administration is a faster, more streamlined option than in-depth probate proceedings which will not only let beneficiaries receive their inheritance more quickly but will also reduce how much the probate process costs the estate.
You can make decisions with certain assets to keep them out of probate
While the probate courts in Florida will review and monitor estate administration in almost all cases, there are a few ways that you could prevent certain assets or the bulk of your property from going through the probate courts.
If you have a designation on certain bank accounts to transfer on death to new individuals, it prevents the balance of those accounts from being part of the estate and therefore from going through probate. You could theoretically change the deed to your home so that your spouse receives your share of the property’s equity when you die so that your home doesn’t pass through probate. It may also be possible to move certain assets into a trust so that they aren’t part of a probated estate.
In most scenarios, however, at least some of your assets and estate will still have to go through the probate court. Getting advice from an attorney with experience in the Florida probate system can help you both with planning your estate or with administering the estate of someone else.