Nearly all forms of property can be transferred through a will, however, certain property interests cannot. For example, property interests cannot transfer by will when they terminate upon the owner’s death or when rights are afforded to others pursuant to Florida law. The following is a list of common property rights and interests:
A homestead is the residence and adjoining lands that are owned by a person that is then survived by a minor child or spouse. The amount of the homestead that is protected is one-half acre when the homestead is within an incorporated city’s limits, or up to one-hundred sixty acres when the homestead is outside of the incorporated city’s limits. In most situations, a homestead can be transferred by will. A life estate, on the other hand, is property that is owned just for the life of the owner.
Joint tenancies with rights of survivorship are able to be created when a person and at least one other person title assets such as bank accounts in multiple names, intending for an owner’s interest to pass to surviving owner(s) upon the owner’s death. This could entail a tenancy by the entireties, which is property jointly owned between a husband and wife. Assets titled as joint tenancies with rights of survivorship avoid probate when the owner dies.
Even though joint ownership is a substitute for a will, it does have its drawbacks. For example, joint ownership can lead to increases in estate taxes over the joint lifetimes of a married couple, cause double probates to be initiated when both owners die simultaneously, cause a shortage of monies needed for the payment of estate taxes, cause issues regarding the payment of that person’s funeral expenses and claims, and increase exposure during that person’s life to another owner’s debts.