Whether you create a will before you die or not, at least part of your assets will pass through the probate process in Florida following your death. In a typical probate case, the court overseeing the matter will appoint an executor or administrator over your estate and oversee the settlement of your debts and distribution of your assets to your heirs or beneficiaries.
Most of the possessions you own outright and in your name only will pass through probate. But not every asset you may have is subject to probate proceedings. Failing to account for these assets in your estate plan can leave the people you intended to benefit left without any way to lawfully come into possession of those valuables.
Three Assets That Probate Will Not Address
If an asset does not pass through probate, then that means it will not be subject to any enforceable court order that awards it to a specific person. Therefore, there must be some other order or directive that tells others where the asset should go once you pass away. These assets include:
Anything Owned by a Trust
If you have a home, car, or other valuable asset that is owned wholly by a trust, then that trust agreement will dictate what happens to that asset. For example, suppose that you have a trust agreement and that agreement owns all of your vehicles. The trust is meant for the benefit of your adult children, but you intend for these cars and their value to be owned and used by your spouse after you die. This purpose will be frustrated, since the trust is the one who will own these vehicles after your death, not your spouse.
Life Insurance Policy Proceeds
Your life insurance policy will be paid to the beneficiary you designated when you opened your life insurance account. It is not considered a probate asset and will therefore often pass outside of probate. Suppose your adult child is the beneficiary of your will but your spouse is the named beneficiary on your life insurance policy. Unless you change the beneficiary designation with the insurance company, it is your spouse, not your adult child, who will receive your life insurance policy proceeds upon your death.
Retirement and Transfer on Death Accounts
Finally, your retirement accounts and any other financial account that is classified as a “transfer on death” account will generally pass to the named beneficiary outside of probate. Similar to life insurance policies, you would have to update who you want designated as the beneficiary of these accounts directly with the company to ensure they pass to the person you intend.
Get More Help from an Experienced Largo Estate Planning Attorney
To ensure your final wishes are carried out and you benefit the people you intend to benefit through your assets, contact your Largo estate planning lawyer at Centonzio Law and schedule an estate planning conference with us today. We will go over your assets with you and advise you how best to protect them and ensure they reach the people you intend upon your passing.
Call Centonzio Law at (727) 900-7290 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.