Estate planning is a thoughtful way to ensure distribution of your property follows your wishes after your death.
If you want to ensure your real estate transfers ownership to someone without contestation, you have options to protect your loved ones from probate.
Can you use a transfer-on-death deed?
Florida does not allow you to designate a transfer-on-death deed for real estate. Something called an enhanced life estate deed does exist. However, it is highly uncommon.
Does Florida recognize joint ownership?
If you own a property with someone else, it can transfer directly to the joint owner according to the “right of survivorship.” Joint ownership has two forms: joint tenancy and tenancy by the entirety. Both allow your co-owner to retain full ownership without going through probate. However, the latter is only for married couples in Florida.
Joint ownership applies to more than just real estate. For example, bank accounts, vehicles and any other valuable property can have a joint owner, and the state will allow the transfer of those items without probate.
Can you name a beneficiary?
You can also list real estate in a living trust to avoid probate. Living trusts allow you to list beneficiaries for specific assets in a trust that you control while you are alive. You only transfer control of the trust to a successor trustee after you pass away. Upon your death, the trustee will oversee your property’s distribution; without probate, no one can contest it.
Estate planning is an important action for anyone with assets, especially valuable real estate.