Globe & Mail – Snowbirds, here’s how to avoid probate on U.S. Sunbelt properties
We are pleased to announce that Matt Altro, David Altro, Avi Guttman were invited to prepare a special for The Globe and Mail, which was published on October 2, 2019. Their article titled “Snowbirds, here’s how to avoid probate on U.S. Sunbelt properties” provides an overview into the U.S. probate procedure and how Canadian snowbirds can make sure their loved ones will sucessfully inherit their U.S. property without inheriting any headaches.
To read the article you can see it in part below, or click here to view it on The Globe and Mail’s website.
Snowbirds, here’s how to avoid a probate on U.S. Sunbelt properties
David Altro, Matt Altro, and Avi Guttman
The Globe and Mail
October 2, 2019
Winter is coming, and with winter comes snow, snow and more snow. And while Canadian snowbirds can escape the winter in the U.S. Sunbelt, they cannot escape two other certainties: death and taxes. Fortunately, by owning their U.S. property the right way, snowbirds can make sure their loved ones who inherit their property don’t inherit any headaches with it.
Let’s take Florida as an example. What happens when you die owning Florida property? Do your spouse and/or kids get the property, hassle-free? Not even close. Your property now becomes subject to the inconvenient and expensive process known as probate. This is true even if you have a will.
Probate is a legal procedure in which your estate must go to Probate Court in order for your property to be transferred to your beneficiaries. What if your beneficiaries want to sell that property after you die? First, the owner’s will – assuming he or she had one – must be filed with the court, the executor needs to be appointed to represent the estate, and notices must be published in newspapers. This is true even if the will states an executor, as the court needs to formally appoint the executor.
Probate is expensive, freezes the estate and ties up the property for eight to 12 months. Court costs and lawyer’s fees can cost up to 3 per cent to 4 per cent of the market value of the property. And to boot, your beneficiaries won’t be able to sell the property until after this whole process is complete.
But if title to your property is owned in a corporation, partnership or trust, it wouldn’t be subject to probate. Why? Because corporations, partnerships and trusts don’t die. No death means no probate. Let’s examine each of these ownership structures. […]