In today’s post in our ongoing series on basic estate planning questions, we turn our attention to the revocable living trust in Florida. If you are a regular, or even periodic, reader of our blog, you know that we talk a lot about revocable living trusts. Understanding what these important estate planning devices do, and how they can help you in a very practical way will do a lot to help you realize why we spend so much time on them. So, here are some basic questions about revocable living trusts in Florida you should know the answers to.
What is a revocable living trust in Florida?
A revocable living trust is a specific kind of trust designed primarily to help your estate avoid the time and expense associated with the probate process.
A trust is a kind of legal entity. Once created, it exists independently of you and is allowed to own property. After you create a revocable living trust you typically transfer your personal property into the trust’s name so the trust can become the new legal owner. When you do this, the trust will remain the legal owner of that property even after you die. This way, you can use your revocable living trust as a way to transfer your individually owned property to new owners in a way that doesn’t require that property to first go through probate.
How does a revocable living trust in Florida work?
Revocable living trusts work in the same way that other trusts work. When you create the trust you have to name someone who will serve as the trust manager, called the trustee.
Most people who create a revocable living trust name themselves as the trustee. The trustee is responsible for managing and protecting the trust property, in much the same way that the CEO of a corporation is responsible for managing the corporation’s property. The trustee doesn’t own the property, but instead manages it so that the beneficiary can use or profit from it.
Because you usually choose yourself as both the trustee and the beneficiary of the revocable living trust, the trust property will never be outside of your control even though you don’t really own it.
What else does a revocable living trust do?
In addition to allowing you to minimize the effect probate will have on your estate, you can also use your revocable living trust to protect you in the event you become incapacitated. When you create the trust you will need to name a successor trustee. The successor trustee will take over managing the trust property should you lose your ability to do so, but will relinquish his or her responsibility if you regain your abilities.