Is A Living Trust Right For You And Your Loved Ones?
In a trust, a person known as the “trustee” holds legal title to property for another person known as the “beneficiary.” When you are the trustee of your trust, you keep full control of the property that is held in the trust. Why put your property in a trust? Historically, the main advantage of making a trust in Florida was allowing your loved ones to avoid the expensive, slow and cumbersome probate process. Today, Florida uses the Uniform Probate Code, which can make the process of distribution for smaller estates easier, but if you have a large estate or anticipate having a large estate when you die, it may be appropriate to retain an experienced Brevard County attorney to draft a revocable living trust, also known as an inter vivos trust.
Planning Your Estate With A Revocable Living Trust
Most living trusts are revocable. This means you can change them over the course of your lifetime if your circumstances or relationships with family change. For example, it is common for wealthy parents to put assets in trust for adult children when they know the children are financially irresponsible or have a gambling or other problem. It is also possible and common to put conditions on how and when the beneficiaries will receive assets held in trust.
The trust document will list all the property to be held by the trust (and retitle certain titled property such as real estate), name a trustee and a beneficiary. Once a trust document is created you must sign the document in front of 2 witnesses and a notary public.
While the trust maker is alive, the trust maker usually makes him or herself the trustee and names a successor trustee who will assume certain duties and obligations after the death of the trust maker. Upon death of a trust maker, a trustee’s obligations include taking an inventory of all estate assets, giving notice to creditors and paying them, filing an accounting of an estate and identifying beneficiaries of the state and distributing the proceeds to them.
There are certain benefits to having a revocable trust. One of the primary benefits involves disability, which is becoming routine in people’s lives as our lifespans increase. A disability trustee can manage assets held in a revocable living trust if somebody becomes mentally incapacitated due to mental illness or dementia. This means you can decide how your affairs will be managed in case of disability rather than having the court appoint a guardian that it supervises. In contrast, the guardian appointment process is lengthy and expensive.
You avoid probate with a revocable living trust. Moreover, your trust is a private document and is not a public record that everyone can access. This means that how your property is disposed of stays relatively private. There are also down sides to revocable trusts, as opposed to an irrevocable trust. In general, a revocable trust does not have creditor protection if you are sued. For purposes of Medicaid, the trust assets are considered the trust maker’s.
Ask a Florida Trust Attorney
As you age, your needs and relationships may well change. A living trust will allow you to accommodate those changes. If you need help planning your estate and creating a living trust, consult the Cocoa attorneys of Cantwell & Goldman. Contact us at 866-583-9129 or via our online form for a consultation. We stand ready to meet your legal needs.