It is important to have a solid estate plan established, including a valid will that specifies how you want your property to be distributed after you die. However, the reality is that many Florida residents die without a will, which means their property must go through the probate process.
Your property still goes through probate when you die with a will; however, the process is simpler and quicker since property is distributed to heirs based on your will. The probate process without a will is more complicated and typically takes longer.
Titling or naming beneficiaries can help your property avoid probate
Not all your property necessarily goes through probate. The probate court will examine your property to see if there is any evidence that you intended it to go to someone after your death, even if it is not spelled out in a will.
You can title certain property as “payable on death” or “transfer on death.” This can include personal property such as vehicles, as well as bank or investment accounts.
Doing so will remove these items from probate. Instead, they will simply go to the intended person.
You may also have insurance policies or other items with a named beneficiary. These items go to the beneficiaries and avoid probate. The exception to this rule is if your beneficiary died before you. The proceeds from the policies will then be distributed according to probate laws.
How your real property is titled matters
Whether any real property you own, such as real estate, is subject to probate depends on how it is titled. Property that is titled solely in your name must go through probate, while jointly titled property with rights of survivorship will go to your survivor.
Overall, property that is set up to be passed on to someone else after your death may not have to be probated, while untitled property will be.
Probate can be complex and lead to family disputes. Starting your estate planning by having a will drafted is the best way to avoid these potential problems.