Do you need a Will and does your death require a probate judge?

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Do you need a Will and does your death require a probate judge?

There are only three in our family. Myself, my wife and my 49 year old son. I believe that in Florida my wife owns my belongings if I die? Our son would not contest her right to take over our belongings at my death. My son will get all our belongings if we both pass. Would probate have to be involved at my death or can my wife just transfer our real estate, automobile and personal possessions to her name? In other words, do my wife and I both need a will or do state laws provide for a surviving spouse to assume ownership of possessions?

Asked on July 30, 2019 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Your son is the son of you and your wife? In that case, you are correct: your wife will inherit everything. So in that regard, you do not need a will.
However, to transfer title, your wife would still need to go through the probate process (which you can do without a will) to get legal/court authority to transfer title of assets from your name to her own; she cannot transfer title without court authority. 
Alternatively, you could put her on the title of real estate as a joint tenant, and either put her on the title of bank or investment accounts or list her on those accounts as "pay on death" (POD) or "transfer on death" (TOD) to circumvent the necessity for probate, since in those cases, title becomes hers without probate.


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