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How do I avoid probate?

The simplest way to avoid probate is to have everything that is in your name automatically pass to someone else when you die. This means having all of your affairs in order and maintaining them. The reason people strive to avoid probate is to avoid the time-consuming and costly process of distributing assets that are not automatically passed to a living heir.

There are a few ways to avoid probate. The first, as aforementioned, is to name beneficiaries. This means that you maintain control of your accounts and assets until your death and at that time ownership is transferred to the beneficiary.

Another option is a living trust. This essentially allows the decedent to put all assets into a trust but to maintain control of the trust as the trustee, managing and having complete control over the property. Once the decedent passes away, a new trustee?who has already been delegated by the decedent?moves into the trustee position and begins transferring everything over to the beneficiaries as named by the decedent.

Finally, joint tenancy is a probate avoiding option of sharing, in life, the property with the person the decedent intends to pass it to in death. A slightly modified version of this is tenancy by the entirety, which is essentially the same as joint tenancy but can only apply to married couples. Whether by the entirety or joint, tenancy means the survivor exercises their right of full ownership upon the death of the co-owner.

There are many ways to avoid probate, and a Florida estate planning attorney may be able to guide you if that is what you wish for your beneficiaries. If you are a beneficiary and are dealing with potential probate, your Florida attorney should be able to work with you to ensure as favorable an outcome as possible.

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