How to Avoid Probate with a Living Trust

Probate is the process of distributing the assets of a deceased person to heirs and beneficiaries. However, the probate process can be lengthy, expensive, and complicated. As a result, it is in your best interests to avoid probate altogether. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process and help you create a comprehensive estate plan that accurately reflects your last wishes.

What is a living trust?

A trust is an entity, managed by a trustee, that holds property/assets for a beneficiary. A living trust is a trust you create during your lifetime as opposed to one that is created after your death. You can be the trustee of your own living trust, and maintain full control over any property it holds.

You can name a successor trustee as well as trust beneficiaries. As long as you are alive, you control your assets. When you die, your successor trustee can then distribute your estate in accordance with your last wishes.

Here are the basic steps involved in making a living trust in Florida:

  • Create the trust – First you need to draft the trust. The document must name you as the trustee and list our beneficiaries.
  • Sign the trust – In order for your trust to be legal, it must be signed in front of a notary public as well as two other witnesses.
  • Transfer property – Lastly, you need to transfer your property into your trust.

A living trust is one of many different types of legal mechanisms that protect your legacy and assets during the estate planning process. For more information, consult an experienced Florida legacy preservation lawyer.

Do you still need a will?

A living trust complements a will but does not replace it. Your living will protects certain assets and property from the probate process. However, anything you own that is not held in your trust must be covered by your will. If you do not create a will, assets outside your living trusts will be distributed in accordance with Florida’s intestacy laws.

Determining if you need a living trust

Florida has a simplified probate process for small estates. Depending on the size of your estate, it might not make sense to create a living trust. If your estate is valued at $75,000 or less, the probate process will be fairly affordable and straightforward.

Contact an experienced estate planning team in Florida

The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan provides one-on-one legal support for wills, trusts, and other estate planning matters across central Florida. For more information on the estate planning process, or to discuss your case with a skilled attorney, call (407) 977-8080, or contact us online.

Peggy R. Hoyt - The Law Offices Of Hoyt & Bryan
About the Author: Peggy Hoyt
Peggy R. Hoyt practices in the areas of family wealth and legacy counselling, including trust and estate planning and administration, elder law, small business creation, succession and exit planning, real estate transactions and animal law.