Creating A Living Trust In Florida
Many people in Florida use wills to pass down their estates upon their passing. However, there are alternatives, chief among them living trusts (also called revocable trusts). Depending on the specific situation you are in, and the assets you have, a trust may be a better choice in terms of safeguarding your possessions, given that a trust does have some advantages over a standard will. Consulting an estate planning attorney can help you decide.
Wills vs. Trusts
There are potential positives to both wills and trusts, and some people use both in their estate planning. However, there are significant differences that one should be aware of. Some examples include:
- A will has no validity until the death of the testator (the will’s author), while a living trust is immediately effective, with only the trustee (and in most cases, the beneficiary) changing when the original grantor passes on.
- Trusts are almost always private, while a will goes through probate and becomes public record in most cases.
- Wills are much easier to contest than revocable living trusts; heirs may dispose of certain assets or grant them to beneficiaries much more easily than they can with gifts in a will.
- It is legally permissible to handle issues like guardianship of minors in a will, but not in a trust.
The nature of your specific situation will dictate which is best for you and your loved ones, but it is critical that you understand that the two instruments are not the same, though they do work in concert very often. Many have what is called a “pour-over” will, designed to handle any assets that do not fall into an established revocable trust.
Creating Your Trust
Creating a living trust, if you decide it is in your best interests to do so, is a fairly straightforward process. Most people act as their own trustee, or if they are married, both spouses can serve. With that settled, an inventory of your assets should be made, and you must also make the choice of which assets will be placed in the trust and which will not. You must also choose a successor trustee – someone to take over the trust’s administration upon your passing, as a trust does not cease to exist just because its creator is deceased.
One of the major draws of a revocable trust is that you may place certain assets in the trust which might otherwise be subjected to probate, thus increasing the likelihood that your estate might be able to avoid probate in its entirety. However, Florida uses the Uniform Probate Code, which offers a streamlined process for estates under $75,000 called summary administration. If your only purpose in creating a trust is to avoid probate, it might be a good idea to determine whether it is the best option for you.
Call A Hollywood Estate Planning Attorney
It is difficult to think of one’s own mortality, but it is important to have a plan in place for your loved ones and your assets. A Hollywood estate planning attorney can be a huge help in ensuring that you understand your options. Attorney Steven A. Mason has years of experience in these matters, and is happy to try and assist you with yours. Contact the Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. today to speak to an attorney.