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Should My Retirement Accounts Go To Florida Probate or Not?


As you begin to create your Florida estate plan, did you know that one of the first steps is to think about what you own and who should inherit it at the time of your passing? We are very aware that most adults do not want to focus on the need for Florida estate planning, but it is important to be sure that our goals for our legacy can be reached. From your spouse and your children to your business and the causes you care about, your Florida estate plan can create a legacy that will far outlive your lifetime.

As you think about the legacy you want to leave behind you need to carefully plan what your legacy may need. Be aware that not all Florida estate planning tools work the same or can achieve the same results. However, when you work with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney, he can guide you through the process of identifying what you own and the best Florida estate planning tools to use to accomplish your goals. In addition, your Florida estate planning attorney can also help you determine the best way to transfer your hard earned assets to your loved ones at the time of your passing without the need of court involvement, also known as the probate process.

In my estate planning, should my retirement accounts go to Florida probate? We want you to know that we work with many families who have significant wealth in their retirement accounts. One of the significant benefits of retirement accounts is their tax benefits. Be very aware that if they are not devised properly through your Florida estate plan, these benefits may be lost. We have a few key reasons we want to share with you below in our blog as to why these accounts should not go to probate.

There may be a loss of privacy. A retirement account for many families represents a significant amount of wealth. If you name your future beneficiaries incorrectly you could place your retirement account at risk of going through the probate process. What is the probate process? It is a public process and, as a result of the nature of probate, your retirement account could become subject to potential creditors being able to access these funds to pay your valid end of life debts.

There may be a loss of access to wealth. The probate process is often time consuming. Therefore, one of the main benefits of transferring assets, such as retirement accounts, outside of probate is so that the transition is seamless. Because the probate process is involved, the probate court will determine when the assets being transferred at death are available which could take at least nine months if not longer.

The loss of long-term tax savings can be more beneficial. Your retirement planning comes with significant tax planning strategies. Whether you are planning for deferred taxes for yourself or for future generations, it is important to work with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney to make sure you get all of the tax benefits you can. For example, if you plan for much younger beneficiaries as recipients of your retirement accounts then you may be able to stretch out or defer taxes even longer than with a beneficiary who is at a similar age to you.

Finally, be careful if you are thinking about not naming your spouse as your beneficiary. Even though it is not required for your legacy planning, your spouse should know if he or she will not be the beneficiary of these funds. In fact, you will want to have your spouse’s consent in writing and it may be required under your retirement plan terms. We highly recommend that you discuss this with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney to make sure you have covered all the bases for the transfer of this account to someone other than your spouse and will not accidentally end up in the probate court.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. When your family or financial health is on the line, trust attorney Paul Riffel to help you protect your interests and achieve your goals. Attorney Paul Riffel has been practicing law in Florida for over 41 years, focusing in the areas of Tampa estate planning and family law. We encourage you to contact us

and schedule a meeting with us.

Tampa Estate Planning Attorney

Paul Riffel Law is located in Tampa FL and serves clients in and around Brandon, Tampa, Valrico, Odessa, Thonotosassa, Gibsonton, Sydney, Dover, Land O Lakes, Oldsmar, Apollo Beach, Lithia, Safety Harbor, Trilby, Plant City, Durant, Holiday, Hillsborough County and Pasco County.

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