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In estate planning, consider the 'estate.'

Most Florida residents know that in estate planning, transferring cash and securities from financial accounts to a beneficiary isn't very difficult. The transactions usually don't require probate. For example, estate holders can list beneficiaries on brokerage accounts, bank accounts and trust accounts. Upon death, the assets will be turned over to the beneficiary.

People think that transferring real estate is much more difficult than moving other assets. It isn't, as long as property owners combine the tools available with some legal assistance.

Under the federal Transfer on Death Property Act, it is allowable for a person to designate a beneficiary, and secondary beneficiaries, on real estate. To do so, property owners must record a Transfer on Death deed. While they haven't been used broadly, the popularity of the deeds is increasing in estates of small and medium estates.

The deed does not transfer property during a person's lifetime, and the property still can be sold without the beneficiary's knowledge or consent. The beneficiary has no rights of ownership or residence once the document is filed

As with most legal documents, it is crucial to have legal advice at the time of preparation of the documents. In dealing with homes, which might be a person's biggest asset, it is crucial to make sure to have legal consultation. That is vital when dealing with property deeds because if the paperwork is filled out wrong, the title to the property could be confused.

Individuals should get references to good estate-planning attorneys and use their expertise in estate planning in general and in this document, specifically. Homes are precious assets that could wind up in the wrong hands if people do not exercise great care with the titles and deeds to those homes.

Source: NWI.com, "ESTATE PLANNING: Beneficiary designations on real estate," Christopher Yugo, Dec. 2, 2012

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