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AWS LAW FIRM

Estate Planning Lawyer ST Petersburg FL

A revocable or “living” trust is considered a way to avoid probate and save on taxes at death per Florida Statutes. There are certain advantages and shortcomings with both traditional wills and revocable trusts. The one you choose to manage the disbursements of your assets depends on your specific circumstances.

Do I Need a Written Will for Estate Planning?

Estate planning is a complex area of the law with specific legal documents including wills and different types of trusts. A written will is a key element of an estate plan that legally documents your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and assets after death. You can recommend someone you want to be the guardian for your minor children and even arrange for the care of pets after your death.

One of the most significant aspects of a will is the personal representative, also called an executor, who will act as your legal representative after your death. It is possible to name two individuals may be appointed to serve jointly in this capacity.

The personal representative is responsible for administering the person’s estate throughout the probate process. They are responsible for gathering, identifying, assessing, and safeguarding the decedent’s assets. A personal representative has the authority to bring a legal claim on behalf of the decedent. They may also defend the claims of third parties against the estate. A resident of Florida or the decedent’s spouse, sibling, parent, child, or close relative may serve as executor of the will.

The decedent’s estate goes through the probate process under court supervision to transfer assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. Not all assets are subject to probate. Any investments, bank accounts, life insurance, retirement accounts, property, and annuities that are not jointly owned with a spouse are distributed to the beneficiaries per the instructions in the will. Anything jointly owned with another party such as a spouse or relative passes to the surviving joint owner.

During the probate process, the personal representative conducts a comprehensive search to identify all creditors, taxes, and expenses and ensures that those outstanding debts are paid before any distributions are made. The personal representative periodically reports to the court and the beneficiaries throughout the probate process and distribution of assets.

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What are the Benefits of Implementing a Revocable Trust within Your Estate Plan?

A revocable trust is sometimes referred to as a living trust. The individual who creates a trust is referred to as a grantor. They may also function as the trustee who can manage their assets during their lifetime and stipulate the distribution of their assets upon their death. A revocable living will means that the trust can be changed and modified during the grantor/trustee’s lifetime.

Of the many advantages of a revocable trust, the ability to administer the trust without involving a probate court is appealing. Assets such as bank accounts, investments, and real estate must be formally transferred into the trust before the grantor’s death to get the most benefit from the trust. A revocable trust may lower the cost of administering the estate and reduce the time for completing the distribution of assets.

The administration of a revocable trust is somewhat similar to the probate process. The trustee named in the revocable trust collects and values the trust assets after the grantor is deceased. They identify the creditors and beneficiaries and pay any outstanding taxes and expenses.

There are no laws in Florida that address the issues of identifying and paying creditors at death. However, there is a two-year period following the death where creditors may file claims against the estate.

What is a Pour-Over Will?

A pour-over will works in conjunction with a revocable trust. It is a legal document that ensures that your remaining assets are automatically transferred to your revocable trust upon your death. This is useful when assets are left in your name at the time of your death. One of the duties of the personal representative of the estate is to identify any assets that are titled in your name, not in the name of the trust.

A pour-over will names the revocable trust as the beneficiary of your probate estate which ensures that the estate is distributed according to your wishes. If you do not have a pour-over will, and probate administration is needed, the probate assets are distributed pursuant to Florida laws.

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Choosing the Best Estate Plan

Having a basic understanding of a traditional will and a revocable trust is a good place to begin when you create your estate plan. A qualified estate planning lawyer can explain the benefits and disadvantages of each of these estate planning instruments. Your lawyer can answer your questions and conduct a review of your financial situation and objectives to advise you about your options regarding the distribution of your assets upon your death. It is to your benefit to take advantage of having a lawyer with an in-depth knowledge of estate law who keeps up with the ongoing legal changes to estate planning requirements.

Phone IconCall Now For A Personalized Consultation(813) 773-2900

Call Now For A Personalized Consultation (813) 773-2900