Florida Last Wills Vs. Trusts

By Joseph Scrofano

Planning for your eventual demise can help you protect your assets and ensure their smooth transfer of your heirs. However, estate planning can be a complicated process. There are two primary vehicles for estate planning: last wills and testaments, or simply wills, and revocable trusts, or simply trusts. Each legal instrument is governed by Florida state law for Florida residents.

Wills

A testator is the person who drafts a will or uses the assistance of an attorney to draft a will, setting out how she wants her assets distributed upon her death. The testator must appoint someone to serve as the executor of the estate. This person administers these transfers after the testator's death pursuant to the will’s instruction by filing the will in probate court and overseeing the entire probate process. Wills can be destroyed or amended by the testator by following specific requirements under Florida law. However, they cannot be altered after the testator dies.

Trusts

With a trust, the testator transfers the assets while he is still alive. However, rather than transfer them to his heirs and beneficiaries, he transfers the assets to a trust. Usually, but not always, a testator appoints himself the trustee so that he can maintain control over the assets while he is alive. Once he dies, the person named as the successor trustee takes control of the assets and is responsible for transferring them to the heirs named in the trust.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Differences

There are two main differences between a will and a trust. With a trust, the successor trustee does not have to go to probate court, and can make asset transfers without court supervision. An executor of a will, on the other hand, must file the will in probate court and transfer assets through the probate process. Accordingly, a trust may save the estate money by not having to pay out probate costs. The second major difference is that, in Florida, when a will gets probated, the will and other court documents become public records. In a trust, this does not occur, making a trust a desirable option for individuals who value privacy.

Using Both

While creating a trust helps avoid probate, some people use both a will and a trust. In such cases, any assets that don't get legally transferred to a trust must be probated to effect their transfer. For example, if you do not transfer stocks or properties obtained after you've created a living trust, those assets will have to go through probate.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Trusts Vs. Last Wills in California
 

References

Resources

Related articles

Florida Laws Governing Last Wills & Trusts

A will allows you to leave your assets to the people you choose. If you die in Florida without a will, the state will distribute your assets – and this may not be the way in which you would like them distributed. In a trust, you give another person -- the trustee -- the title to your assets; the trustee manages these assets on behalf of your heirs. In Florida, wills and trusts are governed by laws found in the Florida State Statutes Title 42 Estates and Trusts.

What Is The Difference Between a Living Trust and a Last Will in North Carolina

There are two types of legal instruments commonly used for individuals to set the terms of the distribution of their assets upon death. First, a “last will and testament” is a legal document where the person drafting the will appoints an executor (or personal representative) to carry out the will’s instructions in the probate process. Second, a living trust is a legal document where the asset holder may unilaterally change it at any time. Laws for living trusts and probate are governed by state law. Accordingly, North Carolina state law governs the differences between wills and living trusts for residents of that state.

Special Needs Trusts Vs. Revocable Trusts in Connecticut

In Connecticut, a revocable trust, also known as a "living" or "inter vivos" trust, allows you to put your assets in trust during your lifetime, in anticipation of your death or incapacity. A special needs trust, by contrast, is designed to provide for an individual with special needs. Connecticut law requires a written and signed trust document.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help. Wills & Trusts

Related articles

Is a Living Trust Liable or Subject to Probate?

A living trust holds assets that are managed by a trustee for intended beneficiaries. Also called a revocable trust, it ...

Trusts & Last Wills in the State of Oklahoma

Estate planning helps individuals who own assets control how those assets are disposed of upon their death. There are ...

Difference Between a Last Will and a Revocable Trust

Two are two main ways for you to set the terms for how you want your estate distributed upon your death. A last will is ...

The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Living Trust or Last Will in Florida

Estate planning involves taking steps to protect your assets for your family’s benefit. It allows you to manage your ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED