In my practice, I see clients that do not understand the difference between probate and estate planning. Many think having an estate plan will avoid the probate process for their heirs after they pass and while Probate Avoidance is a goal of my practice —there are times that Probate is PART of the Estate Plan.
Here are the two definitions according to the American Bar Association:
Estate Planning is a process involving the counsel of professional advisors who are familiar with your goals and concerns, your assets and how they are owned, and your family structure. It can involve the services of a variety of professionals, including your lawyer, accountant, financial planner, life insurance advisor, banker and broker.
Probate is the formal legal process that gives recognition to a will and appoints the executor or personal representative who will administer the estate and distribute assets to the intended beneficiaries.
In short, estate planning is putting together your wishes down on paper, and probate is following these wishes through the legal process after you pass. Having a drawn-up Will before death will help with this process but not always avoid it.
Assets that need to be addressed are known as probate assets and often without a Trust in place may require a probate court order to pass the title. These can include:
- Real estate property
- Bank accounts in the decedent’s name
- Any interests in a corporation, limited liability company, or partnership
- Life insurance policies or brokerage accounts without beneficiary designations
I believe the source of confusion on Estate Planning and Probate is not every Estate goes through a probate process – and while there are exceptions, not every Will will avoid probate. I will go into more detail on this topic in a future blog post.
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.