Florida Laws Governing Last Wills & Trusts

By Lisa Magloff

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.

Creating a Trust

The person creating a trust is called the settlor. In Florida, a trust may be created during the settlor's lifetime, or it may be created in his will. A trust is created when the title to property is legally transferred to the trustee, or when the property owner declares that the trustee holds the property as trustee. Florida law requires that all trusts be created for the benefit of the beneficiaries. In Florida, trusts may be created orally, but there must be clear and convincing evidence the trust was created, for example, one person's word is not enough.

Trusts for Animals

Florida law allows trusts to be created for the care of an animal after its owner dies. This type of trust can only be for an animal that was alive during the settlor's lifetime. The trust ends automatically on the death of the animal. The settlor may appoint a trustee, or the court can appoint a trustee upon the settlor's death. In Florida, a trust set up for the care of an animal can only contain enough money or assets to care for the animal – if a court finds the trust contains more money than is needed for this purpose, it can order the excess money distributed as part of the settlor's estate.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Making a Will

Florida law allows anyone who is 18 or older, or an emancipated minor, of sound mind to make a will. Sound mind generally means that the person has not been found incompetent in a court hearing. All wills in Florida are required to be in writing and must contain the signature of the person making the will, who is known as the testator. The signature must be at the end of the will. If the testator cannot sign the will herself, she can ask another person to sign it on her behalf. The signature must be witnessed by two people, who also sign the will in the presence of the testator and of each other. Florida law does not require wills to have a set format – any form of words may be used.

Revocation of a Will

Florida laws allow a will to be revoked if there is a later will that is different from the original will or a codicil to the original will. The testator can also revoke a will by destroying it, as long as the destruction is done with the intention of revoking the will and is not merely an accident. If the testator divorces after making a will, the former spouse will not inherit under the will, unless it is stated in the will that the former spouse should inherit even after divorce. If the testator marries after making a will, the new spouse can inherit a share of the assets, even if the new spouse is not mentioned in the will.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Can an Irrevocable Trust Be Reversed?

References

Related articles

Does an Irrevocable Trust Automatically Terminate Upon a Certain Date?

An irrevocable trust is an estate planning tool that the grantor can use for a variety of reasons, including minimizing estate taxes, providing for family members and keeping financial information confidential. Three parties are involved in irrevocable trusts: the grantor, who creates the trust; the trustee, who manages the trust; and the beneficiaries, who benefit from the trust. Unlike a revocable trust, an irrevocable trust can only be modified or terminated in certain circumstances. An irrevocable trust may automatically terminate on a specific date if the grantor specified a termination date in the trust document. If the grantor did not provide a termination date, an irrevocable trust may be terminated for other reasons.

Florida Last Wills Vs. Trusts

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.

Do It Yourself: Ohio Last Wills & Trusts

Anyone who wants his property to go to a particular person, or group of people, when he dies needs a will; otherwise the state will distribute the assets according to state law. While an attorney can draft a will on your behalf, this is not a legal necessity and you can write a simple will yourself using a do-it-yourself template for relatively little outlay.

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

Related articles

Amending a Florida Trust

A trust is an instrument that allows one party, known as the settlor, to contribute assets to the trust and to name ...

How to Break an Irrevocable Trust

Two types of trusts are possible: a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust. Although the grantor can unilaterally ...

Tennessee Law on a Living Trust

A living trust can be used to safeguard your property during your lifetime and help avoid probate at death. In ...

How to Revoke a Revocable Living Trust in Florida

In Florida all living trusts are revocable unless the trust document states otherwise. That means that the person ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED