How To Minimize Or Avoid Probate In Florida

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Most estates in Florida will have to go through the probate process at some point. The state's standard probate process can be time-consuming and laborious, so you may be wondering if you have any options for bypassing it. The short answer to that question is: yes, you do.

I am attorney Donald Witmyer and my law practice in Destin has a strong focus on estate planning and estate administration issues. I frequently work with families to administer estates through probate, but I can also help you discover ways to make probate unnecessary.

Probate "Shortcuts" Allowed By Law

If your loved one left behind very little in terms of an estate, you may be able to apply for what is known as disposition without administration. If you paid for his or her final burial expenses, and they have no real estate or assets which exceed their outstanding expenses, this process may allow you to close the estate without going through formal probate.

Another legal probate shortcut in Florida is the summary administration process. If the deceased died more than two years ago, or had an estate worth less than $75,000, this may be an option. The estate executor or an heir named in the will must initiate this process. Once the court determines the estate qualifies for summary administration, the property can be released directly to the persons designated to inherit it.

How To Avoid Probate Entirely

If your goal is to avoid probate, your family will need to plan ahead. There are a number of options for avoiding probate, and a skilled estate planning lawyer can help you discover which ones fit your needs. A few of the most popular options include:

  • Creating a trust and placing most or all of the estate's options in the trust
  • Create real estate deeds and bank/investment accounts as "joint tenants with right of survivorship"
  • For life insurance, retirement accounts and related assets, naming a designated beneficiary

As your estate planning lawyer, I can thoroughly examine your financial and legal needs and suggest additional ways to minimize or avoid probate.

Have Additional Questions? We Know Probate Law.

My firm, the Law Office of Donald Witmyer, P.A., can help your family with probate issues. Call my office at 850-502-2047 or get in touch with me via my online intake form to set up an appointment.