Answers To Common Questions About Probate
Delzer, Coulter & Bell, P.A., in Port Richey, Florida, often answers questions such as the following for prospective and existing clients throughout Pasco County and the state of Florida. We welcome the opportunity to answer your questions, too.
Does having a will enable one’s designated personal representative (executor) to avoid probate?
Some clients mistakenly believe that by signing a Will, probate will be avoided. To the contrary, a Will is actually your directions on how you wish your assets to be distributed through the probate process. There are legal ways to avoid probate, a Living Trust often being the best way. There are also other ways to avoid probate, such as enhanced life estate deeds, payable on death accounts and joint ownership with rights of survivorship.
What is the most common way to avoid probate?
A Living Trust is the most often used legal tool to avoid probate. In our experience, we can say that a Living Trust is the most comprehensive and effective legal tool for avoiding the costs and delays of probate and providing for the management of your assets in the event of incapacity.
What are the common mistakes that attorneys and individuals responsible for estate administration make during estate planning through a Living Trust?
Attorneys and/or clients fail to expend the time to have the client’s real estate, investments and bank accounts transferred into the Trust. This results in a probate administration being required to transfer the deceased client’s accounts and investments in accordance with the Trust.
How does your law firm help clients prepare for a smooth administration process for those who will settle their estates?
Our focus is to provide legal advice to accomplish a client’s objectives, rather than simply preparing estate planning documents requested by clients. Our legal advice focuses not only on advising how a client’s needs and objectives may be accomplished through estate planning documents, but also on utilizing asset ownership and beneficiary designation options that sometimes can be accomplished without expense to a client and with a more favorable outcome for the client.
Are there other ways besides a Living Trust to avoid probate?
Yes, and when appropriate, we advise on asset ownership and beneficiary designation options that can accomplish a client’s asset distribution goals without a Will or probate.
How does the administration of a Living Trust differ from that of an estate going through probate?
The procedures for settling your affairs through a Living Trust administration are similar to those in an estate administration. The elimination of court supervision in a Trust administration is the primary difference between Trust and estate administration. This elimination of court supervision generally accomplishes a significant reduction in settlement expenses.
What is the advantage of working with a board certified attorney to assist with probate or Trust administration?
As board certified specialists in Wills, Trusts and estates, and elder law, we have satisfied educational, experience and ethical standards to be considered specialists. This designation may reassure creditors, official entities, and beneficiaries or heirs that requirements are being properly met.