A common part of estate planning is a will, which allows you to establish how you want to distribute your assets when you die.
However, it requires your loved ones to go through a long and costly process called probate. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid it.
Payable-on-death bank accounts
Florida allows you to add a designation to your bank accounts that states who will receive them when you die. This payable-on-death designation does not give the beneficiary any rights to your accounts while you are alive.
A living trust is similar to a will in that you can lay out your plans for all your assets after your death. While you are alive, you remain the trustee, but your named successor trustee will take over upon your death. They then distribute the property to all the beneficiaries listed in the trust without going through probate proceedings.
Right of survivorship
In Florida, if you share joint ownership of an asset with someone else, the rights to that asset immediately go to the surviving owner. Probate will not be necessary, but they will need to fill out paperwork with evidence of joint ownership.
If you own any stocks or bonds, Florida allows you to transfer them directly to a beneficiary under a transfer-on-death registration. They will speak to the broker without mediation from the court.
Keep in mind that you should list any real estate or vehicles in your living trust because Florida does not allow transfer-on-death for either.