More and more Floridians are considering creating a living trust. Living trusts are popular for several reasons. They are, essentially, legal documents created in a person’s lifetime. Someone else is designated as trustee to oversee that person’s assets on behalf of an eventual beneficiary. So, for example, a man may create a trust and designate his banker as his trustee to manage his assets for the benefit of his wife, who will inherit them when he dies.
They are very convenient because they make transferring the assets of the living trust’s creator, also known as the “Settlor,” while bypassing the myriad complex processes involved in probate.
Living trusts are an important tool in planning your estate, and they make things so much easier for your family after you have died. There is nothing harder than dealing with grief in the middle of a complex and lengthy probate process.
For people living in Florida, this article will help them navigate through setting up a living trust and deciding if it is the right fit for you.
Creating a Living Trust in Florida
Creating a living trust in Florida is highly streamlined. The process is as follows:
- Choose the kind of trust that you will need. If you are single, you should choose a single trust. If you are married, you should either create two separate trusts for you and your spouse or create a joint trust. The best option for spouses who hold property in common, such as bank accounts and real estate, is usually the joint trust.
- Create an inventory of all your property and financial holdings. You need to know exactly what you owe and what you own to know what you can include in the living trust. Several assets can be brought under a living trust, such as cars, family heirlooms, real estate, savings accounts, and stocks. You also have the option of naming your spouse as your beneficiary in your retirement account, whether it’s a 401(k) or an IRA. You should also collect all your title deeds and other paperwork related to your property.
- You now need to think about your trustee. Your trustee can be yourself or a third party. If you name yourself as the trustee, you should stipulate who your successor trustee will be upon your death. The job of the successor trustee is to allocate your assets according to your instructions.
- At this point, you will have to draft a legal FL trust document. You can either use an online template or consult an attorney.
- When the draft has been finalized, you must sign the document before a notary public.
The last step in your journey is to fund your living trust. This is done by transferring ownership of the relevant assets to the living trust. Again, you can do this on your own or with the aid of an attorney. As tempting as it is to do things alone, it is advisable to seek the assistance of an attorney to ensure that things are done right.