Do You Need A Florida Revocable Living Trust?
Although the word “trust” are often associated with very wealthy individuals, the truth is that anyone can use a trust as part of their own estate planning. In particular, the revocable living trust is a popular tool for helping to distribute your assets without the need for formal probate after your death. While living trusts are not especially complicated, they do require a certain degree of formality and understanding of the process.
What Is a Trust?
Let’s start with the basics. A revocable living trust is a document that you sign during your lifetime to manage certain assets. The person making the trust is usually called a “settlor.” The person who receives the trust assets is the “trustee.” In most revocable living trusts, the settlor and the trustee are the same person.
In practical terms, this means that if you establish a revocable living trust and name yourself as trustee, you effectively continue to manage and enjoy the trust assets during your lifetime. As the trust is “revocable,” you are free to amend or revoke the trust at any point before your death. Revoking the trust simply means transferring title back from the trustee to yourself as an individual.
Of course, there are circumstances where you are unable to serve as trustee, such as incapacity or death. The trust documents therefore should designate one or more successor trustees to assume responsibility for the trust. Even if someone else is serving as trustee, however, you may still retain the right as the settlor to amend or revoke the trust itself.
Can a Trust Help Avoid the Need for Probate?
So why bother creating a trust at all? The main reason is that assets held by a trustee are not considered part of the settlor’s probate estate. That is to say, when you die, any assets you previously transferred to your revocable living trust remain with the successor trustee. Those assets will not pass under your will.
Instead, your successor trustees will distribute any remaining trust property in accordance with the instructions you left in your trust. Since the trust is not part of your probate estate, the successor trustee does not have to go to court and seek formal permission first. Nor does your trust need to be filed with the court like a will. This means the trust can be kept private–only you, the trustee, and the beneficiaries of the trust need know its contents.
Of course, even if you have a revocable trust, it is still advisable to execute a last will and testament. For one thing, there is always a chance that a personal asset will be left out of the trust and still require probate. In many cases, people with revocable living trusts will have what is known as a “pour-over” will that simply directs the personal representative of the probate estate to distribute any remaining probate assets to the living trust.
Speak with a Florida Wills and Trusts Lawyer Today
While a trust need not be complicated, it is still best to seek out qualified legal advice before making one. If you need to speak with an experienced Sarasota wills and probate lawyer, contact Suncoast Civil Law today to schedule a consultation.