Creating an estate plan is important for many reasons. Doing so can ensure that a person’s medical choices are respected, assets are distributed according to the maker’s wishes and that surviving Florida family members have a clear plan to follow in the wake of their loved one’s death. Another big plus to estate planning? Easing the probate process. 

Probate can be a useful process in some cases. This legal process begins after a person’s death, typically when a representative of the estate officially submits a death certificate to the probate court. At that point there may be a waiting period, after which the court will process any number of tasks, including totaling assets, paying debts and taxes, identifying heirs and, authenticating and validating a will. 

Despite some benefits, probate can be an obstacle for Florida families. The process is often time-consuming, which can be a burden. Court fees must also be taken from the estate, which decreases how much is left over for heirs. Heirs or family members may even contest the validity of the will during probate, which can drag out the process and even change how assets are distributed. 

Careful estate planning may help to keep one’s estate out of probate altogether. However, even creating a basic estate plan can make the probate process easier for everyone involved. Of particular importance is the will, which individuals in Florida should typically review and update annually to reflect their current assets and heirs. Doing so may prevent others from contesting its validity.