More than 133,000 probate cases were filed in Florida in 2019. As heirs and beneficiaries await their inheritances, millions of dollars are deducted for the administration of those estates.
There are ways you can avoid or limit the complication of the probate process with a purposeful estate plan. Solid and thoughtful estate planning will give you peace of mind and ensure that your heirs and beneficiaries can grieve without the stress of a messy, lengthy, and expensive probate process.
If you know that you need an estate plan or perhaps need to update an existing plan, you should consult with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney.
For four decades, attorney Peter J. Snyder has been handling estate planning for his clients in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and Deerfield Beach, Florida. Peter is ready to help you explore your estate planning options and create a plan that honors your wishes and preserves your legacy.
Probate is the legal process that validates or invalidates wills and oversees the administration of estates of those who have passed away. The process involves gathering a decedent’s assets, paying their just debts, and distributing what's left to the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate.
Estates valued at less than $75,000 may qualify for summary probate administration in Florida, but all others will require formal administration, which takes more time and money.
Avoiding probate by having a well-crafted estate plan will help the loved ones you leave behind. The cost of probate includes administration costs and fees, including the attorney’s fees and costs, that reduce the amount available for the heirs or beneficiaries. Gathering assets and paying debts can take months (or even years), delaying the distribution of your estate to your heirs and beneficiaries. Furthermore, because probate is a court process, the nature and size of the estate may become public knowledge. Your assets, debts, and what your heirs and beneficiaries receive will all be a matter of public record.
Having a will does not allow you to avoid probate. Probate is required to validate a will and make sure debts are paid and assets distributed as specified in the will. Wills are generally less expensive and less complicated to create than more sophisticated estate planning documents. However, the costs of a good estate plan will save your loved ones time and money, once you are no longer around. A sound estate plan also gives you peace of mind, knowing that your loved ones will not be tied up in a lengthy court proceeding.
A trust becomes effective during your lifetime. They are more complicated because you will need to transfer some or all of your real property, vehicles, investments, insurance policies, and other assets to the trust. If you put all of your assets into a trust, they will be distributed as specified in the trust to the named beneficiaries upon your death without probate administration. Unlike a will, the terms of a trust remain private.
Every estate is unique, so choosing a will, a trust, or using other estate planning tools will depend upon the assets of your estate, debts, and your wishes for how your estate is to be distributed when you are gone.
You can spend considerable time researching wills and trusts and attempting to figure out what you need to do to ensure that your wishes are carried out when you pass away. Hiring an experienced estate planning attorney instead is well worth the investment and savings in time.
Your attorney can assess your situation, your assets, and your wishes, and explore the pros and cons of all available options. Once you decide what estate planning tools you want to use, your attorney can guide you through the planning process and create the appropriate documents that will stand up to any potential challenges.
If you already have a will or trust that has not been revised for five years or longer, or your circumstances have recently changed, you should review and update your estate planning documents with an attorney. Examples of changes in circumstances that might indicate the need for an estate planning review might include relocation to Florida, the purchase of a new home, marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a child, the acquisition of any significant asset, or the sale of a major asset.
Having a thorough estate plan in place will provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind. If you have been thinking about an estate plan or have experienced changes that affect an existing plan, don’t wait.
You can avoid or limit the probate court’s involvement in the distribution of your estate with a strategic estate plan. Attorney Peter J. Snyder has helped hundreds of clients like you explore all estate planning options and find the best ones for them. Call or reach out today to learn more about how he can help you plan for your future today!
If you live in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, or Deerfield Beach, Florida, take advantage of Peter J. Snyder’s decades of estate planning experience. With a commitment to offering clients the best legal counsel at a reasonable cost, Mr. Snyder is ready to help you create or update your estate plan. Call Peter J. Snyder, P.A. to schedule a consultation.