Unfortunately, there are several misconceptions regarding probate in Florida. For example, some individuals believe that, because they have a last will, they have done their part as far as estate planning.
Another common myth is that probate is not necessary if the decedent had a last will in place. However, these myths could not be more untrue. In Florida, all wills must be submitted to the court to determine whether an estate will be subject to probate.
Plus, estate planning is a broad and complex matter that encompasses a set of legal tools that permit probate avoidance, such as living trusts. In this article, you will discover whether a living trust is better than a will in Florida.
Florida Living Trust – Understanding the Concept
Essentially, the term “living trust” refers to a revocable trust. A trust is a legal arrangement in which a Settlor transfers the title of property to a trustee for the benefit of selected third parties (beneficiaries).
While some people believe that you will automatically lose control of the property once it is transferred to a living trust, this is not necessarily the case. A living trust is a legal agreement by which you will outline how the assets titled to the trust will be held, managed, and distributed – both during your lifetime and upon death.
Also, it is possible to amend, change, or revoke a living trust at any time due. As the Settlor waives nominal ownership of the assets held in the trust, these assets are no longer considered personal property, making them not subject to probate.
In many cases, a Settlor may designate him/herself as the trust’s trustee, allowing them to retain control of the assets held in trust while they are still alive but ensuring a smooth succession process upon their passing.
Is a Living Trust Better Than a Will in Florida? – The Verdict
Ultimately, a living trust and a last will have distinct roles amongst one’s estate planning tools. In essence, the last will is useful only after the testator passes away. Instead, a living trust is a resourceful tool both in case of death or incapacitation.
Another essential comparison between living trusts and wills is the privacy aspect. The content of a will is open to the public; thus, anyone with an interest in property encompassed in the will can review probate filings and other related documents.
Instead, the content of living wills is utterly private. Hence, upon the Settlor’s death, only the trust’s trustee and beneficiaries have access to the distribution of assets held in the legal arrangement.
Plus, it is much harder for heirs to contest a living trust than contesting a last will, which avoids family disputes and lawsuits within the inheritance process.
As living trusts have an automatic succession mechanism, beneficiary distributions are much quicker than with a will. Therefore, the successor trustee can immediately proceed to distribute the assets held in the trust, instead of waiting several months (or years) to conclude the probate process.
Young parents or people who have minor children can use a last will to name guardians for them. Plus, a will permits you to provide specific instructions for loved ones on how to address taxes and outstanding debt(s), such as forgiving debts owed to you. Instead, a living trust provides neither of these tools.
Living Trust vs. Last Will in Florida – Immediately Contact an Expert Estate Planning Attorney
Both legal tools are crucial; thus, work with an expert attorney to tailor an individualized estate plan. Waste no time – call Attorney Romy B. Jurado today at (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation.