An important comfort to getting older is knowing that your hard-earned and carefully managed assets can be passed on to your family and other beneficiaries. But what happens if age or illness prevents competent supervision of one’s estate? It’s a difficult question to grapple with, but not one without an answer.
A revocable trust offers the best of all options. A revocable trust, or living trust, is a legal document that puts your chosen assets into a trust for your benefit during your lifetime. Income is earned on the assets and trust provisions can be easily adjusted for any number of reasons.
At the time of your passing, a handpicked representative, known as a “successor trustee,” will distribute your estate according to your wishes. A revocable trust can also outline how it should be determined that you are no longer able to manage your affairs. For example, a diagnosis from your personal physician along with a separate, independent medical opinion.
Your successor trustee can then seamlessly step in and manage both your finances and property without missing a beat. This continuity is a major advantage, and cannot be as easily obtained through a standard will and testament.
A will would require your loved ones to rely on other documents such as a durable power of attorney or health care advance directive. Without advanced directives like these, your loved ones would have to seek a court-appointed guardian or conservator. This can be expensive, inconvenient and overwhelming for distraught family members. The court-appointee would also have to report back to the court regarding incurred expenses, the sale of property, and other items.
It bears repeating: Your personally chosen successor trustee will not be subject to court intervention as in the case of a will. And if you dispute a determination of incapacity, the revocable nature of a living trust allows you to retain control of your estate.
A will combined with a durable power of attorney can accomplish similar objectives regarding the transfer of estate management, but since the person giving the power of attorney owns the assets, probate administration would be required at the time of death – something many people try try to avoid.
Probate proceedings involve administration costs, including court fees and likely attorney fees, and are public record. A revocable trust circumvents probate entirely. We are ready to discuss this with you further. We encourage you to schedule a meeting with a member of our legal team to discuss the Florida estate planning that is right for you now and in the future.