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Avoiding probate in Florida may be a good idea

While many people are aware that probate is something to be avoided, if possible, they do not necessarily know why. In Florida, there are several factors that make the probate process one that many people might wish not to experience.

Probate is the process of a state court determining the validity of a will and ensuring that creditors are paid and that the assets of an estate are distributed to the correct parties. In Florida, this will very often involve hiring a lawyer. The court usually also appoints a personal representative or executor who will be responsible for the administration of the estate. This person may charge up to 3% as a fee for the administration. The simplest estates can take six to eight months to probate. There is a full 90 day period in which creditors can make claims against the estate. Any kind of complication in the administration can cause the probate process to take years. Further, once an estate is in probate, all filings become public record. Due to this, just about anyone can get a glimpse of one's familial and financial situation.

So probate can be expensive, time-consuming, and public. These factors can cause added stress to individuals already grieving for a lost loved-one.

Fortunately, with careful estate planning, probate can often be avoided. One way is through the establishment of a revocable trust. Another way is through the use of joint ownership of assets. Both these methods have advantages and drawbacks, however. To do a thorough estate planning job, it might be a good idea to explore all legal options with the advice of a person who knows the law and has experience with estate planning methods.

Source: "Explaining some of the problems with probate," Robert D. Schwartz, Oct. 3, 2013

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