Probate is an unnecessary process that can cost a lot more than than the creation of an estate plan to avoid probate. Why is probate so expensive? The lowest probate filing fee costs $345 for a simple petition for summary administration. Then there are the attorneys' fees associated with drafting and filing the petition and overseeing the judicial process. Probate expenses can quite easily cost as much and sometimes more than the creation of a trust, a document that alleviates the need for probate altogether.
Not only is probate expensive, it is also time consuming and can take months or years to untangle assets and distribute those assets to the heirs. A trust is a much more efficient way of distributing assets. Friendly reminder that wills still need to go through probate - if you have a will, it will still need to go through the judicial process! States also have different requirements for executing a will. This may cause problems if you are trying to probate a NY will in FL and the NY will doesn't meet the self-proving requirements of Florida law. As a result, the court may disregard the NY will and probate the estate as if the deceased didn't have a will.
Real property can pass to heirs outside of probate by either trust or lady-bird deed. Personal property can be retitled and assigned to the trust for distribution by the trustee. The most efficient and practical estate plan depends on the size of your estate. Various options are available for estate planning depending on the desired results one hopes to achieve.
Estate planning is for all ages and stages of life - if you own any assets (house, bank accounts, life insurance, investments, vacation home, boat, etc.), you should consider creating an estate plan. The earlier you create a trust for your portfolio the better - that way assets can be acquired in the name of the trust and you avoid transferring assets from your personal name or business at a later date. Revocable trusts are commonly used for estate planning and allow the owner of the assets to retain all rights and control of the property during life.
Another important estate planning consideration is child-guardian plans. If you have children and want to guarantee your children are cared for by individuals you've personally chosen should something happen to you, then it's important to create a legal document to avoid a court or agency making that decision for you!
Warning not to rely on the "poor man's estate plan" by preparing deeds to transfer property without knowing the legal effects of such paperwork. This type of layman's lawyering could have expensive consequences down the road, lead to litigation, and cost more in attorneys' fees than the creation of an estate plan. If you would like to learn more about creating an estate plan, child-guardian plan, or to explore estate planning options with an attorney, please email info@BurkeLaw.LLC or call 352-681-2723.