For Florida residents, a Florida living trust can be a key ingredient in their estate planning. When seeking to protect your assets for the benefit of your family and loved ones, a well-drafted revocable living trust can make all the difference.
The following are some of the main benefits of a Florida living trust. An estate planning attorney can help you determine which of these benefits apply to your situation, as well as establish your own living trust.
Florida Living Trusts Can Help Avoid Probate
When a Florida resident passes away without a trust, their estate must be administered through the Florida probate court system. This means a probate judge will be responsible for distributing assets. Creditors, heirs and beneficiaries can all become involved in the court proceedings, possibly even contesting the probate. Time-consuming and expensive, probate in Florida is an arduous process.
On the other hand, a Florida resident who passes away with an effective living trust can avoid probate entirely. All assets that are titled in the name of the living trust will instead go through a private trust administration. This means the trust assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries named in the trust. The distribution is performed by the person the decedent has named to become trustee in the event of their death, known as the successor trustee.
This streamlined process for distributing assets is one of the main draws of living trusts. A living trust is a key component of estate planning for this reason alone.
A Living Trust Avoids Guardianship If You Are Incapacitated
In addition to avoiding probate, another key advantage of a living trust applies when the person establishing the trust becomes incapacitated. The living trust itself will define what incapacity means, but the term generally refers to a person no longer being competent to manage their financial affairs.
When the person establishing the trust (grantor) is incapacitated, the successor trustee takes over administration of the trust. The trust itself should provide procedures for determining whether the grantor is incapacitated. This avoids the time, expense and complications of a public guardianship.
Other Benefits of Florida Living Trusts
Some other key benefits of Florida living trusts are the following:
- Protection of Beneficiaries from Creditors: Living trust assets are protected from creditors seeking to attach judgments or liens.
- Protecting Children from Prior Marriages: The living trust can protect children from a prior marriage by (1) placing assets in a separate trust or (2) limiting the second spouse’s ability to alter the trust after the grantor’s death.
- Protecting Disabled Beneficiaries: A Florida special needs trust can protect income for disabled beneficiaries receiving Social Security disability income.
- Medicaid Planning: Your trust can help ensure a Medicaid-covered spouse is not disqualified from an inheritance.
An Estate Planning Attorney Can Help Establish Your Florida Living Trust
With all these considerations, any Florida resident planning their estate should consult a Florida estate planning attorney to discuss establishing a living trust. Contact the Law Offices of Mark F. Moss to see how we can help.
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