Are Estate Plans Public in Florida? How Can I Keep My Probate Estate Private?
Probate estates are a matter of public record in Florida. Therefore, anyone who is interested in viewing your estate can access copies of the documents by researching the probate records in the county in which your probate estate was opened. For many individuals, this access may be an invasion of privacy that they do not appreciate. Unfortunately, after your death, you may not have the ability to keep your financial matters private unless you take steps now to prevent your probate estate from becoming a matter of public record.
Our Jacksonville probate attorneys can help you take advantage of estate planning tools that can help keep your estate plans private. You may be able to avoid anyone, including heirs that you may choose to leave out of your estate, from accessing information about your choices for distributing assets after your death. Call (904) 248-4482 or use the contact form above to request a free consultation with a Jacksonville estate planning attorney with The Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A.
Your Will is Not Considered Private Information
How Can You Avoid Probate to Keep Your Estate Private?
Trust agreements are extremely flexible tools that you can use to avoid probate. There are several different types of trusts that can hold property during your lifetime and distribute that property after your death or continue to manage the assets for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries. Beneficiaries of trusts may include your family members, friends, charitable organizations, or even your pets.
A common trust agreement used by many people is a Revocable Living Trust. With a Revocable Living Trust, you can transfer title to property to the trust while you name yourself as the trustee to manage the property. A Revocable Living Trust can be voided or changed, which makes this type of trust appealing to many people. However, a revocable trust does not provide the same level of protection from creditors as some other types of trust agreements.
An Irrevocable Trust Agreement cannot be changed or voided after you fund the agreement. However, an Irrevocable Trust Agreement provides a higher level of protection from creditors and may offer other benefits to protect property and heirs. While the idea of transferring your property to an irrevocable trust and losing absolute control over those assets may seem frightening, this type of trust can also protect the assets from your heirs’ creditors too.
Trust agreements are not public record. Therefore, the only people who will know the terms of the trust are you, your successor trustee, and the trust beneficiaries unless the beneficiaries choose to share the information with others.
Some assets do not pass through your probate estate. These assets pass directly to heirs using a beneficiary designation. The only people who know about the property are you and the beneficiaries. During your lifetime, your beneficiaries are not aware that they will inherit the property at your death unless you discuss this matter with them.
Examples of property that can pass directly to beneficiaries without going through probate include:
- Retirement accounts, including IRAs and 401k accounts
- Some financial and bank accounts
- Life insurance policies
- Health Savings Accounts
Working closely with a Jacksonville probate attorney can help you determine which assets pass directly to beneficiaries and which assets need to be placed in a trust to protect the assets and keep your decisions about inheritance private.
Call a Jacksonville Probate Attorney for Help
Contact The Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A. at (904) 248-4482 to request a free consultation with our Jacksonville estate planning attorney.
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