When conducting estate planning in Florida, one of the biggest questions you may have is how to ensure your estate avoids probate. Forbes notes that if you have a will, your assets will pass through probate. This is a lengthy and sometimes expensive process. While some states have enacted new changes that streamlined the process, it is still best to avoid it as much as possible.

One of the main downsides of probate is the uncertainty it creates for your beneficiaries. If they needed to liquidate assets included in the will to pay for funeral arrangements or the care of minors or other dependents, this could present a problem. If you have property spread out over multiple states, then the process becomes even longer.

Another important thing to note is that probate is done publicly. Privacy may not seem like an important matter to the deceased. However, you may want to preserve the privacy of the people you leave behind. For example, if you leave a large inheritance to a specific beneficiary and know that it may make them a target, it is best to find legal ways to keep this out of public knowledge.

In these instances, there are many options at your disposal:

  •          Jointly-owned property
  •          Retirement accounts
  •          Life insurance
  •          Annuities

Because of these options, most estates only partially go through probate. How well you engage in estate planning may decide how much of the estate manages to avoid this costly end lengthy process. That said, probate is not always a bad idea. If you believe someone in the family may try to engage in shady practices regarding the inheritance, then going through probate may help to prevent this.

This article provides information on probate. It should not be misconstrued as or used in place of legal advice.