Informed, compassionate and discreet elder law and estate solutions
The Charles Law Offices
Largo Office Wells Fargo Building
801 West Bay Drive, Suite 518
Largo, FL 33770
Phone: 727-683-1483
Toll Free: 866-499-3322
Clearwater Office Hodusa Towers
28870 U.S. Highway 19 North,
Suite 300
Clearwater, FL 33761
St. Petersburg Office Crossroads Office Center
1700 66th St. N.,
Suite 209
St. Petersburg, FL 33710

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Retirement Benefits and the Probate Process

The death of a loved one can be an incredibly difficult time, especially you and your family members must worry about accounting for and distributing that person’s assets and property. Additional complications arise when it comes to retirement accounts and benefits, which may need to pass through probate — a challenging process in itself. It’s important to understand whether or not probate will be necessary in your specific situation.

Probate is the procedure of settling a deceased person’s estate, which is composed of the property that individual possessed at the time of death. Following the death, probate retitles the property to the name of the individuals who were chosen to receive it — the beneficiaries. Any funds remaining in the retirement account at the time of death will go directly to the named individuals.

Often, the most important question to answer is if these funds will have to go through the probate process. Property is only subject to probate if the law does not recognize the new owner upon proof of the death of the previous owner.

Typically, retirement benefits and pensions are not subject to probate because the beneficiaries were selected by name prior to death, typically in a will or trust. In other words, these benefits are safe from the probate process as long as they are designated to specific individuals. Thus, benefits usually do not become a problem unless no beneficiary was selected. If this is the case, the benefits enter probate, which can be a costly and time-consuming process. To avoid this, it is typically best to name at least two beneficiaries for any benefits in retirement accounts through sound estate planning.

Properly managing finances to ensure your family members will be taken care of following your death can be complicated. For the legal guidance you need, contact a skilled Florida estate planning lawyer with the Charles Law Offices.

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