When planning for after your death, most folks focus on who they are going to leave their property to, meaning beneficiaries. However, properly transferring assets is equally important.
The way you transfer an asset has many implications, including the time it takes to complete, the cost, the tax liability, and the asset protection benefits.
The best way to transfer an asset, in Naples Florida or other parts of Southwest Florida where we serve clients, depends on many factors, such as the type of asset and your unique goals. An experienced asset protection attorney like James R. Nici can help you decide how to provide for the transfer of your assets.
What are Common Ways to Transfer Assets in Naples, Florida?
Below are five of the most common types of asset transfers in Naples, Florida.
- Last Will and Testament
One of the most common types of asset transfer in Florida is through a Last Will and Testament. In Naples and southwest Florida, all probate assets are transferred subject to the terms of a person’s will. The will should clearly and concisely describe the property being transferred. You can name a specific piece of property, such as a family heirloom or a vacation home, or you can specify a percentage of your estate. The property is transferred through probate.
Probate is the court-supervised process that authenticates the deceased’s will and appoints a personal representative to administer the will and distribute the property. Probate can be expensive and take months to years to complete. In addition, probate documents, including your will, become part of the public record, decreasing the level of privacy for the family.
It is critical to note that the Will not govern the transfer of certain types of assets called non-probate property. Jointly owned property, assets held in a trust, and accounts with beneficiary designations are not controlled by your will. If a person dies without a will in Naples, their probate property is transferred to their heirs according to Florida’s intestate laws.
- Accounts With Beneficiary Designations
Assets that transfer via beneficiary designations avoid probate. Common types of property with beneficiary designations include retirement accounts (IRAs, 401(k) plans, life insurance policies, annuity contracts, and investment accounts. If the beneficiary dies before the account owner and no other beneficiary is named, the account will pass through probate and be distributed according to the terms of the deceased’s will or Florida’s intestacy laws.
Trust assets transfer outside of probate as dictated by the specific trust document. More and more, folks are using trusts in their estate planning to safely transfer assets to avoid the problems associated with probate. A trustee is named by you and that individual then control and distributes the assets held in the trust as you directed according to the terms of your trust. There are various types of trusts, each serving a unique purpose, with the Revocable Trust being one of the most popular types.
- Joint Ownership With Rights of Survivorship
If the property has a joint owner with rights of survivorship, the property automatically transfers to the surviving owner at the other owner’s death. The transfer happens outside of the probate process. Common types of assets with joint ownership include real estate, vehicles, and bank accounts. Types of joint owners in Florida include tenants in common, joint tenancy, and tenancy by the entireties.
- Lifetime Gifts
You can also transfer assets to another person during your lifetime by simply giving the property as a gift. It is the easiest way to transfer assets. However, it is critical that the transfer meets the legal requirements of a gift, and there can be intent to defraud.
Transfer Ownership or Leadership of a Business
A business succession plan is a way to address how to deal with transfer of what can be a large part of your assets if you are a business owner. Like estate planning for an individual, a succession plan outlines how your business will continue upon the death or other circumstance that leaves a business without its principal executive. Discuss developing a plan with our firm so that aspect of transferring assets is also attended to.
Call A Naples Estate Planning Lawyer
If you have questions about transferring assets, you should contact experienced Naples attorney James R. Nici, with over 25 years of experience in wills, trusts, estate planning and business planning. Contact our office today at (239) 449-6150 or use our web form to set up a free consultation.