No one really enjoys thinking about end-of-life matters, but ignoring an uncomfortable situation does not mean that it will go away. Ignoring estate planning needs is also different than ignoring an overdue library book, as the outcome can be much more costly and emotionally traumatizing than a few fines. Not only should the average person in Florida create an estate plan and keep it up to date, he or she could also consider taking steps to keep the estate out of probate when possible.
Although generally quite effective, wills are not always sufficient for keeping estates out of probate. The prospect is even worse for the 57% of American adults who do not have any type of estate plan at all. Aside from creating a will that outlines property within an estate as well as intended heirs, it is also helpful to consider the benefits of transfer on death accounts. Many people are unaware that TOD accounts can not only easily transfer assets to beneficiaries, but can also keep those beneficiaries out of court.
TOD accounts can have more than one beneficiary designation and may be divided in any way that the account holders see fit. This means that if a parent wants to pass on a savings account to his or her adult children, he or she can still use the TOD beneficiary designations to do so. An account owner does not need to fear that beneficiaries will change anything in an account, as those individuals have no access or control until his or her death.
Having a TOD beneficiary designation does take precedence over a person's will, but it does not negate the need for thorough estate planning. After all, wills play an important role in protecting a person's estate and final wishes. Instead, Florida residents should consider how wills, TOD accounts, trusts and other estate planning tools can work in harmony to create the best possible plan.