You Don’t Need a Will To Transfer These Assets in Florida
While it’s always a good idea to have a basic will, especially if you have dependents, careful estate planning can actually eliminate the need for most of your property to pass through a will upon your demise. This means that your family members or other beneficiaries don’t need to wait for the lengthy court probate process to be completed in order to take ownership of the property.
There are many types of assets that in most states, including Florida, don’t need to pass through a will and are “payable on death” (POD) to a named beneficiary. In most cases, all your beneficiaries will need is a copy of your death certificate to claim the property. You may already be familiar with some of these:
- Bank accounts, including checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs), which allow you to designate a specific beneficiary or beneficiaries. If you have a joint bank account with your spouse or other person, then the funds in the account automatically become theirs with no need to name them as beneficiary.
- Mutual funds and other investment products, which also allow the designation of a beneficiary.
- Proceeds of a life insurance policy. Many families use these funds to pay for funeral and burial expenses, as well as the deceased person’s outstanding debts.
- Proceeds from IRAs and other retirement accounts that are payable to a beneficiary.
- Real property co-owned with another person such as a spouse. The right of survivorship allows the deceased person’s share of the property to automatically transfer to the other owner, or tenant, upon death, with no need to dispose of it in a will. In many states, spouses who purchase and occupy a home are automatically treated as joint tenants without the need to formalize the ownership. In Florida, joint ownership of property by spouses is recognized as tenancy by the entirety.
- Assets placed in a living trust with designated beneficiaries while you are still alive. This is a highly popular vehicle for avoiding probate, especially among those with significant assets. The person establishing the trust (you) is the grantor, who often also acts as the trustee (the person responsible for managing the funds in the trust), unless they name another person as trustee. In any case, you would need to designate someone to act as trustee upon your death. Your trust beneficiaries could be your spouse, children, grandchildren, or even nonrelatives. Some states even allow people to set up trusts for their pets.
- Ownership interest in a business partnership, depending upon what kind of partnership agreement you have set up.
Of course, the most important thing is to make sure that you don’t neglect to establish beneficiaries for your bank, retirement, and other accounts in the first place.
Retain the Services of an Experienced Florida Estate Planning Lawyer
A skilled Florida estate planning attorney can help you ensure your assets are disposed of upon your death according to your wishes, whether through a will, trust, or other vehicle. The services of a professional estate planner are especially important in setting up a revocable living trust, charitable trust, or other kind of trust. Tampa estate planning attorney David Toback has advised hundreds of Floridians in planning for the financial security of their loved ones. Call our law office today to schedule a confidential consultation.