How to Avoid Probate in Orlando
Estate Planning Strategies for Avoiding Probate
At Jackson Law, we understand how anxious you may be to ensure that your
estate does not have to pass through
the probate process. If you are concerned with making sure that your loved ones are able to
enjoy the full benefits of the fruit of your lifelong hard work, it is
in your best interests to implement an estate plan that anticipates the issue of
probate and effectively removes your personal assets from the requirement to probate the
will. Some of the most common
estate planning strategies that are used for avoiding probate include:
The simplest solution for avoiding probate is to make gifts to your heirs
while you are still alive. Anything you give to your loved ones is, obviously,
not subject to probate, since it is no longer an asset of your personal
estate. A downside to this approach is that you can only give a certain
amount to each person in any given year before you may be required to
pay a gift tax. The maximum allowable gift changes periodically but is
currently set by the Internal Revenue Service at $14,000 per year to each
recipient. Another disadvantage of gifting is, of course, that you have
to give up the assets or funds while you are still alive.
Anything that you and your spouse own jointly will automatically skip probate
since full ownership will automatically revert to the surviving spouse.
If your vehicle, bank accounts, securities, home, or other assets are
solely in the name of either you or your spouse, adding the other person's
name to the title can prevent probate, at least for the transfer of assets
to the other spouse.
It is possible to designate a checking or savings account as a pay-on-death
account (POD) naming another person as the beneficiary. As the name implies,
a pay-on-death account will automatically transfer funds to the beneficiary
upon the death of the account holder. It does not create joint ownership
of the account, but rather provides that the beneficiary will receive
the funds when the qualifying event takes place. A similar option is the
transfer-on-death account (TOD), which transfers securities including
stocks and bonds. Unfortunately, the funds in such accounts may be exposed
to the claims of creditors of the decedent. Furthermore, this estate planning
instrument is nowhere near as flexible as certain other options.
Perhaps the most powerful and flexible estate planning strategy for avoiding
probate is the revocable trust. When you establish a revocable trust (also
referred to a living trust or
inter vivos trust), you, as the grantor or settlor, transfer funds into the trust,
which is also known as "funding the trust." The trustee then
assumes control of the trust fund and all assets contained therein. Revocable
trusts work to avoid probate by removing the assets from your estate,
but this does not mean that you will be depriving yourself of the control
and possession of these assets since you can name yourself as the trustee.
Upon your death, the successor trustee will assume control and will then
distribute the assets according to the terms and schedule that you have
specified in the trust.
Hire Our Orlando Probate Lawyers
It is in your best interests to hire an experienced Orlando estate planning
lawyer to ensure that you make no errors in the drafting of the documents
and the funding of the trust and that the instrument will stand up to
legal challenges and operate according to your wishes. In addition to
establishing a revocable trust, you may choose to draft a pour-over will
to direct that any assets not held in the trust will be transferred to
the trust upon your death. To discuss your unique situation and begin
working on the strategy best suited for you,
contact us now.