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How can I avoid the probate process?

Though not everyone is familiar with the term probate, those who are aware of it know that it can be a very difficult and expensive process. Even if a person feels as though he or she has outlined the ways in which assets are to be distributed, there is always the chance that something may go wrong or that the process may be delayed. Without the original owner being present to resolve any disputes or questions, the process can take months or even years to resolve.

One of the best ways to prevent the probate process from complicating asset distribution is simply to avoid the process altogether. To this end, the following are some alternatives to engaging in the probate process:

  1. Placing assets in a Revocable Living Trust ? A Revocable Living Trust allows for another person to own a property on your behalf, but only so long as you allow it. At any time, you can revoke the trust and reclaim the property, but in the event of death, the trustee retains ownership.
  2. Assigning Joint Property Ownership ? When a property is jointly owned, said property simply becomes the sole property of the survivor when the other party passes away.
  3. Gifting the asset ? Of course, you can always simply give an asset to another individual. But it should be noted that it typically best to only gift lower value items.
  4. Designating a Death Beneficiary ? This essentially mandates that a property will pass to the ownership of the designated beneficiary on the occasion of the original owner's death; because the property is now technically owned by the beneficiary and not the deceased, it is not part of the probate process.

Each of these methods brings different pros and cons, and it is entirely possible that you will be best served taking advantage of all methods if you hope to truly avoid the probate process. Additionally, certain Florida state laws may affect your plans. To ensure that you are able to avoid the probate process as much as possible and still distribute your estate in accordance with your wishes, consider contacting an attorney who can help you better understand your options.

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