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Can a revocable living trust help to avoid Florida probate?

As regular readers of our Brevard County Legal Blog know, we recently wrote in this space about why a revocable living trust might be right for you and your family. We know from past experience that many people understand that probate can be a long, difficult and expensive process that adds to a family’s burden in a difficult time, but they are not sure how a revocable trust helps to avoid probate.

First, let’s quickly remind readers who might have missed that previous post that a revocable trust is a document you create with your estate planning attorney to manage your assets during your lifetime and to distribute them after you have passed on.

So how does a revocable living trust help a family to avoid probate? The trust enables you to transfer assets during your lifetime to the trustee, while the probate process makes those transfers after your death.

The trustee has immediate authority to manage the trust’s assets, so the court does not need to appoint him or her.

The Florida Bar Association makes an important point about the funding of a revocable trust, pointing out that those who don’t fully fund their trusts often need both probate for the non-trust assets and trust administration to fully distribute assets.

Something to discuss with your estate planning attorney is a “pour over” will that will transfer probate assets to the trust after you have passed on.

It should be noted that the association says some of the costs and delays that occur in probate (example: filing a federal estate tax return) cannot be avoided with a revocable trust.

In fact, a trustee will still need to collect trust assets, determine who the beneficiaries are, pay expenses and taxes, and then distribute the trust estate.

Your estate planning lawyer can help you weigh the benefits of a revocable living trust and help you decide on the tools that will best protect you, your assets and your loved ones.

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