Transferring Property Outside of Probate in Florida

While probate is far from the worst-case scenario heirs and beneficiaries of a decedent may encounter, the vast majority of estate planning is conducted to minimize the time an estate spends in probate, make the process more efficient, or avoid it altogether. Probate is the legal process by which a decedent’s estate (most assets and property) gets distributed to heirs. Final debts, taxes, and other loose ends are also tied up. 

For many estate planners, real property, like a house or land, is their most important asset. If someone is eager for their home to pass to a loved one as efficiently as possible, it might be worthwhile to explore ways to transfer the house outside of probate. There are a few ways to do this in Florida. 

Use a Living Trust

An overwhelmingly popular way to transfer assets to loved ones outside of probate is to use a living trust. A living trust creates a contract between the grantor (creator of the trust), trustee, and beneficiary. Once the grantor passes away, the trustee is compelled to follow the trust’s instructions and transfer the property accordingly. The assets placed into a trust do not have to pass through probate. There are many types of trusts; living trusts allow the grantor to maintain control over the assets. 

Joint Tenancy

Florida, notably, does not allow transfer-on-death deeds. The only way to “automatically” transfer your real property is to own it a certain way. Property owned in joint tenancy means that ownership is transferred to the surviving owner(s) when one owner passes away. Each joint tenant must own an equal share of the property. 

Tenancy By the Entirety

This method of property ownership in Florida is reserved for married couples. Tenancy by the entirety is essentially joint tenancy for spouses. However, as with joint tenancy, probate is only avoided when there is a surviving owner. 

Lady Bird Deeds

Using a Lady Bird Deed allows you to live in your house and, eventually, pass it to a certain beneficiary after your death. This type of deed also allows you to retain some amount of control over your house, including the ability to live in it. It can also help you qualify for Medicaid, which may cover some costs of medical care associated with aging. However, Lady Bird Deeds are quite technical and should not be created without the help of one or more professionals. 

We Can Help Make Probate As Efficient As Possible

Again, probate is not some awful proceeding. While the main purpose of estate planning is to make sure your assets go to your beneficiaries and heirs as efficiently as possible, it can also, however, help minimize the time and money your loved ones will spend in probate. The Law Offices of Ray Garcia, P.A. can come up with a strategy for your estate plan that meets your goals and gives you peace of mind. Get in touch with our team to set up your initial consultation.