You have worked hard for the assets you have acquired during your life. Like many other Floridians, you want to leave some of your wealth to your children, other relatives, friends or favorite charities. Drafting a comprehensive estate plan helps to ensure your assets end up where you want them to be after your death.
Probate is a legal process by which someone inventories your assets, pays off your debts and distributes your wealth to your heirs and other beneficiaries. According to the Florida Bar Association, Florida law contemplates two types of probate: formal probate and summary probate.
Whether your estate proceeds through formal or summary probate, the process only includes your probate assets. Probate assets are assets you exclusively own when you die. Moreover, probate assets also likely incorporate anything you jointly own that does not automatically transfer to someone else upon your death.
It is not necessarily bad to have your assets pass through probate, as doing so provides some oversight. Still, because probate can be a long process, your heirs may feel like you have left them high and dry. This may be especially true if they must front the money for your funeral expenses, your estate’s legal fees or other immediate costs.
Therefore, it may be advisable to create a trust that includes non-probate assets. After your death, your loved ones can use disbursements from this trust to pay for urgent expenses. Then, they may not feel so bad about waiting until the probate process concludes to receive their share of your probate assets.