Probate and Estate planning are two distinct parts of my practice and clients often ask me what is the difference between Estate Planning and Probate.
Here are the two definitions according to the American Bar Association:
A process by which an individual designs a strategy and executes a will, trust agreement, or other documents to provide for the administration of his or her assets upon his or her incapacity or death. Tax and liquidity planning are part of this process.
The court-supervised process of proving the validity of a will and distributing property under the terms of the will or in accordance with a state’s intestacy law in the absence of a will.
In my words: Estate Planning is creating an exit strategy that often involves putting your wishes down on paper and/or managing beneficiary designations so that your property efficiently passes after your death while Probate is a court assisted process following your death that may involve effectuating your wishes or may impose what the law says should happen if you did not do any planning. Both can manage/transfer your assets post-death but estate planning happens while you are alive and probate after death.
Side note: Estate Planning & Probate are not mutually exclusive. Many think having an estate plan must avoid the probate process for their heirs after they pass and while MOST plans are geared towards probate avoidance, sometimes in Florida a Summary Probate is PART of the Estate Plan [that is a subject for another blog that I promise to write ☺ ].
Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law, serves clients all over the state of Florida with Estate Planning and Probate. She has offices in Daytona Beach and Melbourne but can meet via phone or Zoom with clients statewide. Contact her today to schedule a free consultation. Visit her page on Facebook or see what her clients are saying to learn more about Heidi at www.heidiwebb.com.