How Long Does The Probate Process Typically Take?
Summary administration typically takes four to six weeks but in some cases, can take four months or so. Formal administration typically takes six to nine months but can take a year or more in contested cases or complex cases.
What Are The Options Available For Avoiding Probate?
There are a number of tools available that one can use to avoid probate. Living trusts provide one popular mechanism for avoiding probate by allowing you to place your assets in a trust and providing in the trust how your assets are to be distributed upon your death. Trust must be carefully funded and drafted by a skilled estate planning attorney to make sure your goals are accomplished.
Another means of avoiding probate are naming beneficiaries of life insurance policies, annuities, and IRAs, and naming payable on death beneficiaries on your bank accounts. Investments in securities, such as stocks, are similar to bank accounts in that you can name a payable on death beneficiary and the securities will pass directly to that person on your death.
With respect to real property, if land is owned by a husband and wife, as tenants by the entirety, the surviving spouse receives the property without the necessity of probate. Additionally, joint ownership with a right of survivorship is a common way that land passes between people outside of probate. This is when two people are joint owners of a house, or other real property, and the deed designates the property as jointly owned with rights of survivorship. On the death of one of the owners, the other owned would become the sole owner of the property. Sometimes people want to own property by themselves but want the property to go to designated individuals upon their death without creating a living trust. In this scenario, an enhanced life estate deed may be preferable.
This deed allows the life tenant the use and ability to sell and mortgage the property during the life tenant’s lifetime, then the deed specifies who will receive the remainder interest in the property, if any, upon the life tenant’s death.
Can Someone Realistically Navigate The Probate Process On Their Own?
In almost all cases you will need an attorney for Florida probate. Except for “disposition without administration” and those estates in which the personal representative is the sole beneficiary, Florida law requires the assistance of an attorney. Even when an estate lawyer is not required, the probate process has so many technical rules that it can be very difficult for a non-lawyer to navigate.
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