One common misunderstanding many of our clients have is the belief that having a Last Will and Testament avoids the probate process. Your Will is a probate document.
Although the will is valid if it was executed properly, the Will must be admitted to the probate court to be effective. Florida has laws regarding the proper execution and validity of wills.
The probate process is an expensive, lengthy process run through the Circuit Court in the county where you lived (or where you owned property if you lived outside of Florida). The probate process is open to the public and all documents can be requested by interested parties. The probate court may delay the transfer of assets to your beneficiaries by many weeks or months by freezing bank accounts or restricting the sale of real estate.
Additionally, family members may cause problems and longer delays by arguing over the probate process. This happens more often than we would like to believe.
Proper estate planning can provide a manner to ensure your assets pass to your loved ones in the manner you decide without the need to go through probate.
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