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Probate is more than time-consuming; it’s an expensive endeavor that puts more stress on relatives and friends after someone’s passing. Unfortunately, probate is relatively common in Florida due to improper estate planning.

There are ways to keep probate court out of your beneficiaries’ future, but you need to know what probate court is to plan ways to avoid it effectively.

What is the probate court?

Probate is the process where the court sorts through a specific person’s estate after death. In Florida, the court primarily relies on the will to decide how the estate is distributed among family and friends. Probate court often takes months to divide assets and money; it may take longer depending on the complexity of the estate.

How do I avoid probate court?

Most planners want to keep their beneficiaries out of probate court to prevent months, possibly years, of hardships. Luckily there are ways to prevent heirs from going through the court to receive their assets:

  • Establish a trust – a trust allows you to make plans for during and after your life. You assign specific assets and heir to your trust, and they will have full control of the trust once you cannot control the funds.
  • Give away property while you are alive – you may have a vacation property in Florida that you do not use. Instead of giving it to your beneficiary in a will, give it to them now to avoid a costly court battle.
  • Use Joint Ownership – adding a joint owner on a bank account or a deed helps your loved ones avoid probate in Florida. Consider adding your spouse or partner to your accounts during the planning process.
  • Assign an account beneficiary – you assign a recipient to your retirement or bank accounts. The beneficiaries control the funds after your passing. They won’t be considered as a joint owner on the account.

Overall, the best way to keep your heirs out of court is to ensure your estate is divided correctly. If you take the time to address every asset, even to the smallest collectibles, it will make your loved ones’ lives easier.