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Are Florida Revocable Living Trusts Actually Private?


Many individuals who begin looking into building their own estate plan are drawn to the idea of a revocable trust. Many like the idea of maintaining the level of control afforded by a revocable trust, and they have often heard of the lauded “privacy” allowed to those items in a revocable trust, as opposed to a traditional will/last will and testament.

There is some truth to the idea that a revocable trust offers a level of privacy not afforded to traditional wills. This is because when a person passes away in Florida, their last will and testament is filed with the Florida probate courts. These filings do become a matter of public record. The Florida probate process is public. This means that anyone from the general public can investigate and access those records, learning the contents of the last will and testament.

This is why revocable trusts do earn a certain amount of respect for enhanced privacy – a trust does not need to be filed with the Florida probate court in the same way that a last will and testament does. But while there is a level of privacy afforded to these trusts, this article aims to shine some light on a few important caveats that you should keep in mind.

Real Estate

Revocable living trusts are a common estate planning tool in Florida. Essentially, they allow the grantor to transfer specified assets to a trustee – and they themselves might very well act as trustee during their lifetimes. It is the trustee who will then hold formal legal title to the property in the trust. Real estate holdings are key assets to many individuals building their estate plans. But if you are planning (or hoping) to keep real estate holdings totally private by granting them via trust, rather than passing it through the last will and testament – there are a few additional processes you need to keep in mind.

Florida law requires real estate transactions, to include a transfer via a trust, to be recorded. There are very good and logical reasons behind the law, but it does present a bit of an issue for those hoping to keep the real estate transfer from becoming public knowledge. A seasoned wills & probate attorney can help you identify strategies that can best help you accomplish your most important objectives.


Another development that might lead to some public disclosure of part of a trust is if somebody sues the trust, pulling it into litigation. The litigation itself could lead to the terms of the trust becoming a matter of public record. Trusts are put through litigation for many reasons, including someone challenging the terms of the trust, an accusation of a breach of fiduciary duty, or even a creditor seeking to collect against the trust.

Beneficiary Disclosure

Those building their estate plans should also be aware that Florida law requires a trustee to provide a complete copy of the original trust document to the qualified beneficiary/beneficiaries of the trust, if they so request. And there is nothing automatically in place that would forbid that beneficiary from disclosing the trust/assets held in trust to the public.  Again, a qualified wills & probate attorney can help you to understand what estate planning tools best help you to accomplish your goals.

Contact Suncoast Civil Law

There are a litany of options and estate planning tools at the ready to help you put your affairs in order. The esteemed Sarasota wills & probate lawyers at Suncoast Civil Law can help you strategically craft an estate plan that best serves your unique needs and circumstances. Contact our office to begin speaking with our team.