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Protecting Your Child’s Inheritance From Probate

Learn how to avoid probate, with or without a will, and ensure your assets after death are directly distrusted to your family.

Q: Why bother to prepare a Last Will if the intended beneficiaries are unable to pay thousands of dollars to lawyers to receive what is theirs upon the person’s death?

A: When my mom and dad died, their Last Will left my brother and I a 3-bedroom rental property with no mortgage. We decided to sell the property, but found that we couldn’t without filing letters of administration. Being naive teenagers needing income, we were clueless as to where to start only to learn we must hire an attorney to probate the property.  

Having no funds to pay the attorney or the mortgage, the property was foreclosed upon, auctioned off to the highest bidder and excess funds were deposited in Florida’s unclaimed property.  Five years later, we learned we were entitled to these unclaimed monies but, again, must hire a probate lawyer to recover them.  Still without funds to pay for an attorney, the monies remained under the State of Florida’s control.  I, too, thought, “why bother to prepare a Last Will if the intended beneficiaries, like my brother and I, are unable to pay thousands of dollars to lawyers to receive what was supposedly my brother’s and mine upon our parents’ deaths?” Eight years following our parents’ death, we finally retrieved the few remaining funds through probate – about 30% of the market value of the rental property our parents left us. This time, I thought, “probate seems stupid and unfair.”

As stupid and unfair as probate may seem, it isn’t. Parents with Wills could avoid probate altogether if they simply listen to their lawyer’s explanation about how to protect assets from probate.  Some parents believe lawyers are simply unnecessary and prepare “self-help” Wills, but more often than not, they prepare them incorrectly or not according to Florida law.  Only about 42% of all adults in the U.S. ever prepare Wills and less than half of them follow their lawyer’s directions and don’t adequately research financial impacts to beneficiaries from improperly prepared self-help documents.

There are so many ways that parents can protect their assets from probate and ensure, once deceased, their children can inherit the family wealth without any need for lawyers or losing greater than half of the family wealth because beneficiaries have insufficient funds to pay for probate.  Consider some of the following ways to avoid probate with or without a will.

Banks have a procedure to protect accounts from probate called Payable Upon Death Accounts (POD), also known as Transfer on Death Accounts (TOD), that pass these accounts directly to designated beneficiaries and avoid probate.  Family homes and timeshares can be protected by means of an Enhanced Life Estate that passes such real estate directly to beneficiaries with no need for probate.  Insurance and investment accounts also provide the ability of Beneficiary Designations and are Payable Upon Death directly to the named beneficiaries without the need for probate. Children in the US lose billions annually because parents don’t research preventative measures that avoid probate nor listen carefully to their attorneys.  Do the right thing, and protect your child’s inheritance by contacting an estate planning attorney like Jackson Law PA with its Passion of Protecting Your Assets and Beneficiaries from spending funds they may not have for attorneys, unnecessary court costs for probate and losing substantive family fortunes.

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Written by Kristen Jackson

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