What is Probate Litigation?
Basically, in a nutshell, someone is challenging a Will, Trust or Intestate estate. For example, our law firm was recently hired by a family member because they believe their family member’s Will was Invalid.
If you believe that a Will/Trust was invalid contact us immediately. With office locations in Coral Springs and Fort Lauderdale, we will be happy to sit down with you and discuss your case. 954-334-1520.
As an Probate Attorney in Coral Springs, my firm deals with all types of deeds.
Life Estate Deeds:
With a “regular” life estate deed, the owner of the real estate makes a gift of the property to beneficiaries, called remaindermen. The owner retains a life estate in the property as long as he is alive. He is responsible for all maintenance and taxes on the property. The life tenant cannot mortgage or sell the property during his/her lifetime without the permission and “joinder” of the remaindermen. The life tenant effectively gives the property away—and unilateral control of the property—during his/her lifetime, unless the remainderman join into the transaction.
With an “enhanced” life estate or Lady Bird Deed, the owner of the part of real estate, the “life tenant and Grantor” retains complete control over the property during his/her lifetime. He/She has the right to mortgage or sell the real estate without the consent of his/her remaindermen named in the deed because they have not actually given the property to them yet. The property doesn’t transfer until the death of the life tenant. Once the life tenant passes away, the property is automatically transferred to the beneficiaries avoiding Probate.
If you would like to know more about Ladybird Deeds and how to avoid Probate, call our office today 954-334-1520. Our main office is located in Coral Springs, Florida. We offer free initial consultation, by phone or in person.
As experienced probate attorneys in Coral Springs we at Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. have often come across 5 probate myths that people are convinced are true. As all good probate attorneys in Coral Springs will tell you estate planning is a serious business and essential if you are concerned about what will happen should you become incapacitated or pass away. However it seems that thanks to these 5 probate myths, proper estate planning is often overlooked as costly and unnecessary. That is why we at Reinfeld & Cabrera feel compelled, as trusted probate attorneys in Coral Springs, to make sure you are not falling victim to these top 5 probate myths.
#5. I already have an estate plan and don’t need to think about it again.
This is a constant source of frustration for probate attorneys in Coral Springs. Your estate plan needs to be monitored and updated every time you have a major life change such as divorce, marriage, birth etc. Ideally you should consult with your attorney every four or five years to discuss changes in your circumstances that could affect your estate plan.
#4. There is no need to make my spouse a beneficiary.
Couples tend to assume that if one spouse dies, the other will simply continue living with all the assets in their estate, and that all the assets of the deceased spouse will automatically go to the living spouse. There are so many factors that influence how this works, such as how your assets are titled; and whom you have named as the beneficiaries of your life insurance and retirement accounts. Furthermore if you die without a will, what is left of your estate will be divided between your spouse and your children. This could create issues especially for spouses who are financially dependent on each other or have children from other marriages.
#3. Death Taxes.
As probate attorneys in Coral Springs we have often heard estate tax referred to as unfair “death tax”. When it comes to federal estate tax did you know that there is a $5 million+ federal estate tax exemption? Thanks to this exemption it is estimated that less than 0.10% of estates will be subject to federal estate taxes. When it comes to state estate taxes most states actually impose their own estate tax, which is significantly less then the Federal Government exemption. However, in the state of Florida, the estate tax is not assessed and no portion of what is bequeathed in a will or a trust to an individual will go to the state.
#2. Probate – no problem!
If you live in Florida, this is simply not true! Without the help of a probate attorney your family and loved ones will be left to navigate a gauntlet of complicated probate procedures and be at the mercy of a probate judge who does not know you or your family.
#1. Estate planning is for the rich.
Unless you live in a cave with not a penny or asset to your name you will need an estate plan. An estate plan does not have to be expensive. By speaking with a knowledgeable probate attorney, such as Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. you will be able to structure an estate plan that will best suit you and you family’s needs.
Having discussed the probate process and the importance of a probate attorney, we at Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. have decided to put together a quick list of some of the ways on how to avoid probate in Florida. By making use of an experienced probate attorney you will be able to avoid probate with relative ease. As the saying goes prevention is better than cure – especially with the guidance of a probate attorney from Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A.
1. Name a beneficiary:
Property that lists a transfer on death beneficiary (TOD), or a pay on death beneficiary (POD), passes directly to the named beneficiary. Therefore naming a beneficiary is a frequently used method of avoiding probate. You may name anyone you choose as a TOD or POD on each of your vehicles, your checking and savings accounts, and any annuities, retirement savings, CDs, or other investments that you have. With the guidance of an experienced probate attorney such as Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. you will easily be able navigate your way through this process.
2. Create a revocable living trust:
Simply put a revocable living trust is a changeable or revocable legal agreement, in which you name someone as trustee/executor of your affairs description. Upon your death, your chosen trustee/executor will acquire legal title. They will then be able to decide what to do with your property and possessions. In this manner you will be able to avoid many aspects of a traditional will. Naming your trustee must be done through extensive consideration, as they will have a big effect on how your property and possessions are handled after death. A living trust is alterable and assists in avoiding probate. However, a living trust does have some disadvantages. In order to set up a trust and to discuss advantages and disadvantages of revocable living trusts contact a probate attorney such as Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A.
3. Share ownership:
Share ownership means to take title of property with someone else. If you have joint ownership of property or possessions with another person such as a spouse you can avoid probate. When one of the owners dies, the title will simply pass on to the other owner thus circumventing probate. Contact a probate attorney at Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. to discuss setting up joint ownership as well as the potential the advantages and drawbacks of creating joint ownership.
4. Gifting items:
A simple way to avoid probate is to give away items that you don’t want caught up in probate proceedings. By gifting away your property or possession (especially more expensive items) it cannot go into probate.
There are various other ways to avoid probate, many of which are state specific. Consult a probate attorney such as Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. for comprehensive guidance on how to best avoid probate in Florida.
For many people the probate process may seem like an overwhelming and daunting task. So the probate attorney’s from Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A are here to make things easier.
To begin the probate process the executor of the decedent’s will must come forward with the will. If there is no will or an executor and the family cannot agree on one, then the court may assign an administrator. The executor or Personal Representative’s authority extends only as far as the decedent’s probate estate. An experienced probate attorney can clarify which assets qualify for probate. A Petition for Probate of Will and Appointment of Personal Representative’s as well as the decedent’s death certificate needs to be filed at the court clerk’s office. The court will then review the petition and an Personal Representative will be formally appointed. It is wise to have a probate lawyer assist with this process. Once this has been given the green-light the probate process can officially begin.
Step One: Probate Assets
All the decedent’s assets will need to be collected, inventoried and appraised. These assets include money owed to the decedent or estate such as life insurance or loans. Other assets such as real estate or valuable collections will need to be appraised by professionals and financial accounts such as stocks or bonds may need to be reviewed or sold in order to collect all the assets to be distributed.
Step Two: Paying-out
All debts and expenses must be paid. The Personal Representative is responsible for paying these expenses with the estate funds. Expenses will be paid usually in the following order:
- Costs/expenses of administration (for example – attorneys or appraisers)
- Funeral expenses
- Debts and taxes
- All other claims
The Personal Representative is in charge of reviewing all debts, bills or claims against the decedent. After reviewing all necessary documents and proof of claims the a Personal Representative then has the right to reject those which are deemed invalid and pay the ones that need to be paid. Rejected claims may be appealed by claimants within a particular time period; these cases may then need to be handled by probate attorneys.
Step Three: Distributing Assets
The remainder of the estate can be distributed to the beneficiaries as the will states, or as the administrator sees fit if not stated, or (in the case of no will) according to intestate law. A public announcement in a newspaper is required to be published stating that the estate is in probate to allow any remaining creditors to come forward. This is also the point in the process where those who want to dispute the distribution of assets can be heard.
Even though these steps may make the probate process seem a lot simpler and manageable than before, there are many technical and important details which can be explained when contacting an experienced probate attorney. The probate attorney’s at Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A are uniquely qualified and experienced in the administration of the probate estate, they can either guide you or be the administrator.
If the word “probate” makes you feel uncomfortable, then you need to understand the estate planning process and make sure your estate is taken care of after you pass away. Probate doesn’t have to be a scary process. The attorneys at Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. can make sure your estate is in order and take the worry out of probate.
Probate is the formal court procedures that administer a person’s estate after they have died. It is during this process where outstanding debts can be paid and property can be sold or transferred to another person. It some cases, it can be a complex procedure so it is always wise to set up your estate plans before you pass away. In other cases, probate can be a problem-free carrying out of a person’s will. It all depends on the specifics of each situation and we can help you determine what impact probate could have on your estate.
Only certain aspects of a person’s estate will enter into the probate process. For instance, probate does not involve a trust, life insurance, or retirement accounts that have named beneficiaries, or jointly-owned property, when the first joint owner has died.
Probate, which is part of public record, can be a lengthy process that lasts six months or longer. We can help you at Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. to recognize what parts of your estate might be better suited to a trust, in order to avoid the probate process. We will also help you recognize when a will is appropriate for your specific situation, and when probate will be necessary.
While it may not be possible to set up your estate to completely avoid probate, we may be able to better set up your estate so that probate is manageable. By creating trusts, setting up some joint ownerships, and designating beneficiaries, we will be able to avoid probate in some areas. Let us help you with your estate planning and to make probate seem less scary.