Going through probate in Florida can be a double-edged sword. In some cases, it gives the judge time to distribute your assets among your family members; in others, it forces your family members to wait months before they can receive their inheritance. You might not be able to avoid probate entirely, but you could talk to an attorney about steps you can take to shorten it as much as possible.
Why should you avoid probate?
When your estate goes through probate, your beneficiaries won’t have access to your estate until probate is finalized. This includes savings accounts, houses, investments and anything else that you left for your loved ones. If you planned for your estate to pay for your funeral, your family members might have to pay out-of-pocket instead.
The situation becomes even more complicated if your spouse is financially dependent on you. You might have planned for your estate to take care of their finances after your death. Unfortunately, your spouse won’t have access to your funds until probate is over.
Additionally, probate makes your financial records public. A complete stranger could go to the courthouse and ask to see your file. In some states, they could even look it up online. If you can avoid probate, your personal affairs won’t be accessible to the public. An estate planning attorney could offer some advice on preventing probate as much as possible.
Is it possible to avoid probate entirely?
Depending on your assets, you might be able to avoid probate by setting up trusts and gifting your assets to your relatives while you’re still alive. However, some assets can’t be properly distributed without going through probate. An attorney could help you figure out the best course of action for your will and possibly prevent probate altogether.