Creating a Will or a Trust is an important part of estate planning. Because people generally only deal with their own or a loved one’s Florida Will and Trust once or twice in their lifetime, many people do not review their estate documents to effectively plan their estate.
Here is an introduction to Wills and Trusts in the State of Florida:
What Is a Will?
Most people know what a Will is, or at least generally what it does; that is, it controls the distribution of your property, known as your “estate” when you die and appoints a legal representative to take control of your personal property.
A Will allows the writer to plan their own funeral arrangements, leave inheritances to be paid out all at once to beneficiaries and name guardians for underage children, whenever applicable.
What Is a Trust?
A Trust, on the other hand is not so simple, and can take many different forms. For one, while a Will has to go through probate for a court to determine whether or not it is valid, a Trust is the result of a legal agreement and does not have to be validated in probate court.
A Trust takes effect the moment it is created; the grantor of the trust allows the trustee to oversee the contents of the Trust and dispense property to the beneficiary according to instructions stated within the Trust agreement. These benefits may be given out and revoked before the grantor’s death, after his/her death or when the beneficiary reaches a specified age.
What’s the Difference Between a Florida Will and Trust?
Even if clients understand the difference between Wills and Trusts, it is often difficult to know which one is more appropriate for a specific set of circumstances.
Trusts are often most appropriate when the grantor wants to leave specific assets to specific beneficiaries, and maintain control over when and how they receive the assets. When you set up a Trust, you can transfer only the asset you want the beneficiary to receive and determine when the beneficiary receives the asset.
Wills on the other hand, encompass all property and assets owned by the deceased at the time of his/her death and determines how the property and assets will be distributed to the intended beneficiaries.
Understanding the difference between Florida Wills and Trusts does not mean that people will not still need expert legal advice when planning their estate; in fact, legal counsel is highly recommended. The team at Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. is happy to help you with all of your legal needs. Contact Craig Woodward, Jennifer Tenney or Lenore Brakefield at (239) 394-5161 or Cathrine Hunter at (239) 649-6555, or visit www.wpl-legal.com for more information.