How to Avoid Sending Your Estate Through Probate

The probate process involves formal court proceedings in which the assets of a deceased person are divided and transferred to beneficiaries and heirs. This process is usually costly and time-consuming, involves a lot of paperwork, and can be uncomfortable for the surviving members of the family due to its public status. That’s why it is usually advisable to take steps to avoid sending the estate through probate.

The strategies to avoid probate in Florida are both proven and straightforward. If you apply them while designing your own estate plan, most of your property and income will pass automatically to the desired beneficiaries and family members upon your passing. Thus, you will not only protect your estate and ensure the financial security of those who are closest to you, but you will also spare them months of inconvenient court proceedings. In this article, we explain the most popular ways to avoid the probate process in Florida.

Fill Out Beneficiary Designations

It is probably best to start with making sure that beneficiary designations are filled out on your financial and retirement accounts. If you use transfer-on-death or payable-on-death designations, these accounts will be transferred automatically to the designated beneficiary. Make sure that you have appointed a beneficiary in this way for all your life insurance policies, annuities, IRAs, 401(k)s, and others.


A joint title with right of survivorship or tenancy by the entirety will ensure that most of your financial and investment accounts will be passed automatically upon death. Titling is a versatile way of avoiding the probate process and can also be used with regards to real estate or even vehicles. However, it is important to note that titling is not a lasting solution since it only postpones the probate process until the co-owner dies.

Living Trusts

Transferring your assets to a revocable living trust during your lifetime is another way of avoiding probate. Virtually all kinds of assets – real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, and others – can be put in the trust. In order to set up a revocable living trust, you need to draw up a document and assign a trustee. Then, you need to transfer the ownership of all the assets placed in the trust from yourself to the trustee. Upon death, the trustee will be able to transfer the assets according to your will in a process called trust administration.

Wills Do Not Avoid Probate

This is a common misconception. It is important to note that drawing up a will, while important and advisable, will not automatically help your estate and assets avoid probate. Even though a will appoints beneficiaries and a representative to oversee the estate, a formal court process will still be required to execute all of the wishes of the deceased.

Consult a Real Estate Attorney

Which way of avoiding probate in Florida will be most suitable for your estate plan? Much depends on the details of your personal situation, your finances, and your estate as a whole. It may be difficult and even emotionally taxing to make all the decisions regarding your estate plan on your own. Consulting an experienced probate attorney will help you make sure that all aspects of your estate will avoid probate and be securely distributed among your family members or other beneficiaries.

Attorney Luis Barreto has helped hundreds of Florida residents successfully plan their estate and avoid the probate process. If you need a new estate plan or counsel regarding how to avoid probate in your unique circumstances, do not hesitate to contact us. For a free initial consultation, call (305) 358-1771 or contact us via our website

Luis E. Barreto