Most people do not like discussing the possibility of passing on. Therefore, many Florida adults avoid estate planning in the manner that many avoid getting a medical checkup. But for those with assets to leave after they die, estate planning is very important to beneficiaries and heirs.
A will is still a common form of estate planning. This type of document distributes the assets of a person after he or she dies. After death, an estate is opened and the will goes through probate. The court will review the will for authenticity and to ensure that it is executed properly. There are two main drawbacks for a will. It does not take effect until after a person's death, and it also requires court oversight. This can be a lengthy and expensive process.
Trusts can provide more flexibility and options for estate planners. A trust creates a new entity in which the individual's assets are placed. The estate owner will name a trustee who will oversee the trust and handle the assets according to the trust terms. The terms will be set by the creator. In Florida, the creator of the trust can also be the trustee. A trust will normally appoint a successor trustee to take over in the event of the death or disability of the original trustee.
The trust takes effect from the time of its execution. Usually, the creator of the trust can amend or revoke it. In some cases, often for tax purposes, it may be advantageous to create an irrevocable trust.
After the trust creator passes on, the property will be distributed pursuant to its terms. Filing of a probate estate is often not required. For those needing to discuss these issues, a meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney may reveal helpful options. The attorney can explain the advantages of each option.