WHAT DO HURRICANES AND ESTATE PLANNING HAVE IN COMMON?
Hurricane Irma blew through our state causing mass destruction and power outages throughout the state of Florida. Many people are left suffering even though Irma is gone and new hurricanes are now being tracked and closely followed. Like estate planning, some of the suffering caused may have been prevented by proper planning.
FAILING TO PREPARE IS PREPAING TO FAIL.
In a hurricane, we must buy batteries, flash lights, and water and food to last us days and maybe even weeks if needed. Similarly, to do a proper estate plan we must prepare. We must state our wishes clearly, sign applicable documents, and fund our trusts with assets. The creation of a trust is important and helpful, yet, the funding is most important as it is the step where the assets are officially transferred over to the trust. When this is done properly, these assets are now owned by the trust.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS NO ESTATE PLAN? PROBATE COURT INVOLVEMENT IS REQUIRED.
If no estate planning exists and a person dies with assets in their own name, probate court involvement is required to transfer those assets from the decedent to their heirs or loved ones. This can be done with a will and is called a testate probate or without a will, intestacy.
HOW DOES PROBATE COURT WORK?
Probate is the court process where an attorney must be hired by the loved one’s of the decedent to collect and distribute the assets. The process is ruled by Florida law and if an original will is provided, the will may guide the Judge regarding the decedents wishes. Once probate begins, the Judge is in charge of all of the details of the decedent’s estate. Probate includes the court deciding when real estate can be sold, the sales price, and to whom. The court will also decide many other personal family matters, for example, if a family business should be sold and to whom and when. Even the opening of a safe deposit box becomes a court ordered event in the case of the decedent owning it in their own name.
HOW DO I AVOID PROBATE?
By creating a revocable trust and funding it properly, probate may be avoided. A properly funded trust keeps matters private within the family and avoids probate court involvement. A safe deposit box, bank accounts, investment, real estate, and even business shares can be owned by a trust.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO ESTATE PLANNING?
When proper estate planning has been accomplished, that individual is protected both in the case of incapacity and/or death and probate court can be avoided. This is a huge benefit to the loved ones; personal matters may now be kept private. As an Estate Planning, Probate, and Trust Attorney in Miami Beach, Florida, I have over twenty years of experience and handle these matters with the sensitivity they deserve.