Advantages of a Living Trust
A living trust is substantially more complicated than a typical will. Consequently, it is also more expensive to set up and may require a higher degree of oversight during the settlor’s lifetime. But for some individuals and couples, especially those with larger estates, a living trust can offer numerous benefits. These include avoidance of probate, a higher degree of control over your estate, and estate tax avoidance or reduction.
A trust is a legal device by which a person — called a settlor — transfers property to a trustee who holds title to that property. While the trustee is the legal owner, he or she has a fiduciary duty to manage the trust assets in the best interests of one or more beneficiaries within the limits established in the trust document.
In a living trust (as typically used for estate planning purposes), the settlor establishes a trust in which he or she is both trustee and beneficiary during life. He or she also designates one or more individuals to serve as successor trustees and beneficiaries upon the settlor’s death. The settlor then transfers most, if not all, of his or her assets into the living trust. In this way, he or she can continue to manage and enjoy the benefits of these assets during life.
However, upon the settlor’s death, the property in the trust does not need to pass through probate. The new trustee manages the property for the benefit of the new beneficiaries independent of judicial supervision, subject to fiduciary duty, the Florida Trust Code and the terms of the trust document.
Information provided is of a general nature and does not act as a substitute for a personal discussion with an attorney. Your circumstances may create different legal opportunities.