Are you a private person? Do you hope to keep your Florida estate private when you pass away? You may have a goal for your estate to avoid probate, but you have to have the right documents in your estate plan. That being said, have you recently created your last will and testament, but are you still unsure whether your estate may have to be probated? First, and most important, having a Florida last will and testament in place is excellent. But the fact that you have a will does not, by itself, allow your estate to avoid probate. Therefore, in order to avoid Florida probate, here are a few other things you need to be aware of:

1. Is a last will and testament enough to avoid Florida probate? Probably not and here is why. First, you need to know what a last will and testament is. Your Florida last will and testament is a set of instructions for your personal representative, a trusted person you selected, to be sure your wishes for your estate are followed. Your personal representative will follow your instructions in how to distribute all of your assets, which may include a house, a truck, bank or brokerage accounts or personal items. Even though you have written down instructions in your will your assets may still be subject to probate. Therefore, your personal representative may be required to probate your will, and this could possibly take time and money from your estate. Take time right now to meet with your Florida estate planning attorney to find out what other tools you should prepare to avoid probate.

2. Can a trust protect my estate from probate? Possibly. If you want to have your estate avoid probate, we recommend you meet with your Florida estate planning attorney to create a trust. He may recommend a good tool called a revocable trust to avoid putting your estate through probate. However, now that you have created your revocable trust and put your assets into the trust, your work may not be done if you want your estate to avoid probate. This is why. You must update your trust if you add or delete any assets. For example, you may sell some assets, acquire some assets but forget to put your new assets into your trust. Remember, only the assets in your trust will avoid probate. Any other assets you may have acquired but forgot to put into the trust may have to go through probate.

3. Does the information in your will have to match the information in my trust? Yes, it is a mistake if you do not keep the information in your will and trust the same. You must be careful to not have any information in your will and in your trust that does not match. If the information in your will does not match the terms of your trust document, then your trust document may prevail. If there are any inconsistencies they may have to be reviewed by a probate court.

At the Perlin Estate Planning & Probate our credentials enable us to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to our legal services. By building relationships with our clients, we are also able to understand each client’s needs and desires, and we support such goals through thoughtful, comprehensive planning techniques. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.