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.
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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