Probate is a legal process whereby a court validates the deceased person's Will or determines that he or she died without a Will. The court also appoints someone (personal representative) to handle the decedent’s assets and pay any outstanding debts owed at death.
Probate makes sure that taxes are paid and allows for any creditor that is owed money at the time of death to come forward and make a claim to receive payment. There is a fixed period of time for creditors to file a claim.
Once all the assets are identified, debts and taxes paid, assets are distributed according to the person’s Will or if there is no Will, the property is transferred under the Florida intestate laws. (Remember under the Florida intestacy statute, your lesbian, gay and same-sex partner will received nothing from your estate).
Probate is expensive and can be contentious if there are members of your family whom may contest your Will. Probate, depending upon the legal issues, can also take considerable time.
There are some well-established methods of transferring property such as:
- revocable living trusts
- pay-on-death bank or stock accounts
- joint tenancy
- life insurance and IRA benefits
- assets in a bank checking, savings or money market account
Other alternatives when providing for your gay, lesbian, same-sex partner, and children from your current or previous relationships, include:
- Designating multiple beneficiaries in retirement plans and IRAs (especially when there are children involved)
- Irrevocable life insurance trusts
- Gifts given instead of testamentary bequests
- Life estates
- pre-paid college plans
- family limited partnerships
- charitable remainder trusts
- qualified personal residence trusts
Contact a Jacksonville, Florida Gay and Lesbian Attorney and see which method of transference or other alternate estate plan is most appropriate for you and your loved ones.