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 Ocala 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 (352) 519-4299 or use the contact form above to request a free consultation with a Ocala 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

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.

Beneficiary Designations

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
  • Annuities
  • Health Savings Accounts

Working closely with a Ocala 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 Ocala Probate Attorney for Help

Contact The Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A. at (352) 519-4299 to request a free consultation with our Ocala estate planning attorney.

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Contact our office to discover the difference it can make to have a team on your side that puts your best interests above all other concerns. Our Ocala lawyers believe everyone deserves to have the benefit of experienced legal counsel. Therefore, our law firm offers free consultations. We do not want the concern about paying for a legal consultation to prevent you from getting help with a legal matter. We want you to have the legal counsel and guidance you need as you choose the best option for you to resolve your legal matter.

Call our Ocala law firm at (352) 519-4299 to speak with an attorney now. Do not wait any longer to learn about your legal rights and options regarding your situation.