If you are a non-resident of Florida but own property in the state, you need to understand how ancillary probate works and how to avoid it. This can be an expensive and time-consuming process that you don’t wish for your beneficiaries to experience. Here are some tips on how to steer clear of it.
Ancillary probate in Florida
Ancillary probate is a process used to administer the estate of a person who owns property in Florida but resides in another state. This process is more expensive and time-consuming because the law requires that you must get the services of a Florida attorney, and the fees for handling ancillary probate must begin at 3% of the value of the decedent’s assets that are in Florida.
How do you avoid ancillary probate?
Florida common law allows real estate owners to pass property on to their beneficiaries outside probate after they die with an enhanced life estate deed. In this deed, you will name your beneficiaries as remaindermen, i.e., people who have the legal right to inherit your property automatically.
You can title your property in Florida to include you and your beneficiaries with the right of survivorship as owners. When you die, the survivors will automatically receive that property without going to ancillary probate.
Another way to avoid ancillary probate is to title it in the name of a trust, in this case, a living revocable trust. With a living revocable trust, you can do whatever you want with your property, like selling assets, changing beneficiaries or adding more assets to it. Once you die, the trust becomes irrevocable, and your named beneficiaries get that property as per your terms without going to probate court.
You can also transfer your property in Florida into a business entity like a corporation or LLC. Since it’s now the property of your business, it will avoid ancillary probate.
Florida is a great place to own property. However, make sure your loved ones don’t have to spend a lot of time and money in ancillary probate in order to inherit your property.