Avoiding the Florida probate process . . . is it really that bad?

In Florida Probate Process by Long

So many of our clients contact us after they’ve been through a gamut of consults with other attorneys. Typically they are dumbfounded by the high cost of attorney’s fees and the time frame in which it takes to close Florida probate administration.
The perceived exorbitant cost of hiring an attorney for Florida probate is only compounded by the fact that all probate administration requires representation by an attorney.

The boommers of our generation are quick to educate themselves as their parents face the end stages of life and quite often I’ll get the call from the hospital to draft up a “quick and dirty” Last Will or Trust. I’ve yet to prepare an estate plan for someone on their proverbial death bed because I just don’t like the potential consequences of an estate contest, regardless of my confidence in the integrity of the execution/signing process.

The inevitable conversation follows:

Client: How on earth do I avoid probate in Florida?

LHD: How large is your estate?

Client: Well, I’ve got a house (my homestead), two cars and a bit of life insurance.

LHD: Why do you think you need to avoid Florida probate?

Client: So I don’t have to pay an attorney!

Is that the only reason everyone wants to avoid probate? Or is it that they’ve just failed to educate themselves about the process?? I choose the latter.

Come on people, it’s not jail time … it’s the court-supervised process of passing on your assets. Court supervision ain’t all that bad. Almost everyone has a family member they wouldn’t dare leave their children, rolex or porsche keys with… and if that very same person ended up with some influence on your Florida probate administration, wouldn’t you want it to be supervised by a judge??

But what about a living trust? Your brother in law raved about his fancy 100 page trust. 100 bucks says the eventual trustee, his wife, has NO idea how or why it may avoid probate.

Trusts are usually overkill for most estates. They are NOT asset protection and your trustee might need an attorney to properly administer the trust after your gone anyways!

Bottom line: There is no one size fits all for estate planning and probate just isn’t that bad … if you plan smart.