We should be reviewing our estate planning documents regularly. Especially whenever we have a big life change such as a relationship status change or a falling out with family members or loved ones. Additionally, if our financial situation changes drastically, either for better or for worse, we should be reviewing our estate plan. When the laws change regarding taxes and estate taxes, or if we retire or move from one state to another, we should also be reviewing our plans in case an update is needed. We recommend that you have a lawyer to help you navigate these changes and understand how to best protect yourself.
Do I Need An Estate Planning Attorney Or Can I Plan For My Estate On My Own?
With access to the internet, anyone can attempt to do pretty much whatever they want on their own, including dental surgery. Still, would you trust yourself with dental surgery? It is critical to recognize our personal limits and understand that seeking professional help is the wisest thing to do when it comes to legal matters.
What Happens To An Estate Under A Trust Once The Trust Maker Dies?
Trust administration involves various phases, such as:
- Securing the powers of the successor trustee
- Reviewing the trust to determine the identity of the beneficiaries, required distributions and administrative duties.
- Notifying the beneficiaries that there is a successor trustee is in place
- Filing a Notice of Trust
- Marshalling the assets
- Identifying what assets (if any) need to go through the probate court process
What is Probate? What Factors Set The Stage For Probate To Occur?
Probate is the name for the court process required to legally transfer ownership of assets or property owned by the person who passed away to beneficiaries or heirs at law. Typically, we only need a probate case when there is not an automatic mechanism already in place to be able to transfer assets to the heirs or beneficiaries. For example, if there is a life insurance policy and no beneficiary listed, then that life insurance money must go through the probate process before the funds are available to the beneficiaries. Or if there is a piece of real estate and no surviving co-owners with survivorship rights, co-othen probate is needed to be able to pass the interest to the heirs or beneficiaries.
What Are The Options Available To Avoid Probate In Florida?
There are various options for avoiding probate, including, but not limited to:
- Joint accounts with rights of survivorship
- Holding real estate as joint tenants with rights of survivorship
- Beneficiary designations
- Revocable living trust
The big caveat with probate avoidance tools is that the various options available are not “one size fits all” solutions. Depending on your situation, mistakes can result in unintended consequences to your estate and its beneficiaries.
there can be serious drawbacks or negative consequences to your estate or beneficiaries . Your best route will depend on your specific circumstances. It’s best to consult an attorney to be very careful about what actions you choose to take.
Can Probate Realistically Be Handled On Your Own Without An Attorney?
Under Florida law, you must have an attorney to represent you in a probate case.
For more information on Reviewing & Updating An Estate Plan In FL, an initial consultation is your next best step.