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Advice to daughter: Avoid repeating mom's estate planning error

We all make mistakes. That is simply an unavoidable part of the human condition. Of course, when we make a mistake – or notice a mistake someone else has made – it can be an opportunity to learn from the error and avoid making the same mistake in the future.

That is essentially the opportunity presented to a woman who wrote recently to a Florida newspaper for advice about her mother’s estate and the probate process. The South Carolina woman wrote in to ask how she can transfer ownership of two lots here to her name.

Her mother left everything to her, she wrote to the Sun Sentinel, but the two Florida lots were not transferred to her after the estate was probated in South Carolina.

The estate planning attorney who replied said that the South Carolina court simply did not have jurisdiction to transfer ownership of those Florida lots. The woman will need to open a second probate, here in the Florida county where the lots are located. This ancillary probate will be easier and less expensive, the lawyer says, than the probate administration she’s already gone through in South Carolina.

But he offers a solid piece of advice, which is to do her heirs a favor by not making the same mistake her mother made. He urges her to sit down with an estate planning attorney and look at ways in which she can help her heirs avoid probate. One suggestion: “titling the property in a life estate,” he writes, or creating “a living trust to avoid the need to probate any out-of-state properties.”

You can contact a Brevard County estate planning law firm to discuss ways in which you can cost-effectively protect your assets and heirs.

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