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Establishing a Valid Living Trust in Florida

Establishing a Valid Living Trust in Florida

A “living trust” is one that you create and administer while you are still alive, rather than one that is activated only upon your death in accordance with the terms of your will or other estate planning documents. When creating a living trust, you will designate a trustee to hold the title to all trust assets for your chosen beneficiaries. You can serve as the trustee of your own trust, enabling you to maintain control over all the property placed in the trust.

The primary advantage of creating a living trust is to allow your assets to bypass probate, which can be a long and stressful process for your family members and friends. However, depending on your circumstances, a living trust may or may not be helpful.

Florida uses what’s called the Uniform Probate Code, which outlines a much simpler probate process than those in other states. Florida also has a simplified probate process — called summary administration — for estates worth less than $75,000. It’s unnecessary to create a living trust if the estate will qualify for summary administration.

How to form the trust

To create a living trust, you must take three simple steps:

  • Draft the document: The trust document should specify who will inherit property placed in the trust and also name the trustee who will be in charge of managing the trust assets. Again, in a living trust, you can be your own trustee.
  • Sign the document: The document must be signed in front of two witnesses and a notary public for it to be legally binding.
  • Transfer property: Begin transferring property you wish to pass down through the trust.

It is important to remember that just because you have created a trust does not mean you should skip making a last will and testament. A will allows you to control the distribution of any property not included in the trust, while also outlining various other wishes for your estate. Both mechanisms may be beneficial to your estate planning process.

For more information and guidance on creating wills and trusts, contact a skilled Pensacola estate planning attorney with The Law Office of Zachary T. Magaha.

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