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Avoiding Florida probate with a revocable trust

Many of our regular Brevard County readers are also readers of the Orlando Sentinel. The newspaper recently ran a short advice column on how Florida residents can pass real estate on to their heirs.

The estate planning attorney who responded to a reader’s question noted that two options were particularly attractive: a revocable trust and enhanced life estate deeds. With a trust, you can help beneficiaries avoid Florida probate – an appealing prospect to be sure.

The Florida Bar says on its website that you create a revocable trust to do two things: manage your assets during your lifetime and then distribute the remaining assets after you pass on.

If you create a revocable trust, you are then called the “grantor.” The person tabbed to manage the trust’s assets is known as the “trustee.” Of course, in many cases the person who creates the trust is also the person responsible for managing its assets.

You can, however, name another person to manage those assets, or pass that responsibility on to a trust company or bank.

One of the most important features of this time of trust is that it’s revocable; in other words, you can change the terms of the trust as you see fit (as long as you aren’t incapacitated).

Most trusts are set up to allow the grantor to withdraw funds or remove assets from the trust at any time. If you become incapacitated, the trustee can then manage the assets and make other financial decisions.

When you pass on, the trustee (or your successor) will pay claims and taxes and then distribute the trust’s assets as you described in the trust agreement.

If you have questions about the benefits of a revocable trust for you and your family, contact a qualified Cocoa estate planning attorney.

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