Can I set up real estate to avoid probate?

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2024 | Real Estate Law |

In Florida, the probate process can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Fortunately, there are several strategies available to help Floridians avoid probate and ensure their real estate transfers automatically upon death.

Designate a beneficiary

When you name a beneficiary on accounts, such as checking, savings, 401(k)s or IRAs, you are specifying who will inherit those assets after your passing. These beneficiary accounts are not part of the probate estate in Florida, which ensures a smoother transfer of assets. And, it is possible to set up your real estate assets to pass similarly.

Create a living trust

A living trust allows you to manage and distribute your estate upon death. Assets placed in a living trust bypass probate altogether. This ensures beneficiaries receive their inheritance promptly. By transferring ownership of your real estate into the trust, you maintain control during your lifetime and provide for direct transfer to beneficiaries after your death.

Joint ownership with right of survivorship

Another effective method is holding property in joint tenancy with right of survivorship. When one joint tenant dies, their share automatically transfers to the surviving joint tenant(s) without going through probate. This is a straightforward way for married couples or partners to ensure a seamless property transfer.

Transfer on Death Deeds

Florida law allows for Transfer on Death deeds, also known as beneficiary deeds. A TOD deed allows you to designate a beneficiary who will inherit the property upon your death, bypassing probate. This option provides flexibility since you retain full ownership and control of the property during your lifetime.

Ladybird Deed (Enhanced Life Estate Deed)

An Enhanced Life Estate Deed, commonly known as a Ladybird Deed, allows you to retain control of the property during your lifetime. Upon your death, ownership automatically transfers to designated beneficiaries, bypassing probate. This deed type ensures you can sell or refinance the property without the beneficiary’s consent during your lifetime, making it a popular choice.

Life Estate Deeds

Another option is a life estate deed. This type of deed allows you to retain ownership while you are alive (your life estate) and designate a person who will own the property thereafter. That person automatically receives the property upon your death. This method avoids probate and ensures the property is transferred according to the owner’s wishes.


By understanding and utilizing these methods, Floridians can effectively set up their real estate to avoid probate and ensure a smooth transition of ownership upon death. The key is planning now.