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Estate administration is a complex but important process

Florida residents might be aware of the benefits of estate planning. Though executing a will is an effective and unparalleled estate planning tool, it is nonetheless quite complex and often a time-consuming process.

When a person dies testate -- that is after executing a will -- the testator's estate has to go through a probate process, whereby assets are managed, evaluated and distributed. This process of estate administration is sometimes a lengthy and complicated process. It requires an efficient and trustworthy administrator, and the probate court must constantly monitor the process. Estate administration may take a few months or a few years, depending on estate complexities involved and the size and location of the estate. Also, if parties are challenging the probate of the will, a lengthy and stretched-out litigation may result.

Florida residents should be aware of the variety of options that exist to simplify estate administration. For instance, payable-on-death bank accounts are an easy way to avoid probate. What is required is the completion of a simple form that names a beneficiary who will inherit the balance of the account upon the account holder's death. The beneficiary merely has to show proof of the account holder's death and proof of his or her own identity. Naming a beneficiary for a retirement account or life insurance policy will also block the funds from going through the probate process, unless the estate itself has been named as a beneficiary.

There are plenty of other ways in which to avoid probate, like joint ownership of assets and living trusts; however, every case is different and what works well for one person may not work well for another. Working with an experienced attorney can help ensure the creation of a sound estate plan.

Source: TheState.com, "Managing assets in estate planning," Neil Brown," Feb. 17, 2013

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