If you are working on your estate plan, you may come across a lot of information regarding probate – and some of it may seem negative. According to the Florida Probate Code, there are two types of probate: formal and summary administration. A formal administration is necessary if the value of the estate in probate is worth more than $75,000. A summary administration takes place in the following circumstances:

  • If the value probate estate is less than $75,000
  • If the decedent had a will but the will does not give administration
  • If the decedent has been dead for more than two years

In either case, many people wish to try to avoid probate because it can take months and, in some cases, more than a year, tying up valuable assets. It can also be expensive, as fees can eat into the value of the estate.

The good news is that there are several ways that you can avoid probate or reduce the assets that must go through the process. For example, placing property into a living trust will circumvent probate. Additionally, any accounts that have pay-on-death stipulations will avoid the process. Lastly, any property that is owned jointly, such as you and your spouse owning a home together, will not be introduced to probate.

An article in The New York Times warns that if you try to avoid probate by putting items into a trust, you should take care to account for all the items that will go through the process. Especially if you plan on leaving assets to heirs or a spouse, you need to make sure you have sorted through who will get what, trust or not.

It is best to speak with a professional about your specific estate and what going through probate would mean for your assets. While this information is useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

Luis E. Barreto