Part of savvy estate planning in Florida might include making sure your assets are set up with “right of survivorship” or POD (pay on death) designation (also called “succession planning”) in order to avoid probate entirely.
Some common examples of this include:
An insurance policy or annuity is not subject to probate if it is payable to a specific beneficiary. However, if the policy is payable to the deceased, Florida considers it part of the estate.
If there is a joint bank account or investment and the account includes right of survivorship, the account automatically goes to the surviving owner.
If real property is titled as “joint tenants with right of survivorship,” it is not considered a probate asset. If the real estate is titled as “tenants in common,” Florida considers it a probate asset unless it is a “homestead property” – more commonly known as a primary residence. For example, an investment condo in Fort Meyers that provides rental income could be a probate asset depending on the title’s language.
Property jointly owned by a husband and wife as “tenants by the entirety” is not a probate asset and goes directly to the surviving spouse.
Assets placed into a properly drafted and fully funded Florida Living Trust can pass directly to the named beneficiaries without court supervision.
Those are just a few examples of property that can become probate assets in Florida. An attorney experienced in Florida wills, trusts, estate planning and asset protection can answer your specific questions.
With the proper guidance, you can protect your finances and spare your loved ones the frustration of having to make costly and difficult decisions. Contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.