A will is a legal instruction designating someone to be in charge of your affairs when you die (a Personal Representative/Executor) and instructing them on what to do. A will must be probated which means the Probate Court approves your will as being valid and authorizes your designated person to act on behalf of your Estate. A will must be signed and witnessed properly in order for it to be valid in Florida.
There are several different types of trusts but for basic estate planning purposes, many clients use a revocable living trust. A revocable living trust is set up while you are living and you reserve the right to change the trust as long as you are living and competent to do so. Once you set up a trust, it is important to finish the work by transferring the money and property you own into trust ownership. This is called “funding” your trust. In Florida, trusts do not necessarily avoid probate but they can certainly minimize or simplify the process of probate. They can also substantially reduce the cost of dealing with your affairs not just upon your death but in the event of your disability.
Wills vs. Trusts is a debate that has been discussed since the early 1980’s. When we first meet with clients, this questions must be answered. Our role as your counselor is to provide enough information to allow you to answer this question. Trusts are not for everyone. Generally, the more you have and the older you are, the benefits of a revocable living trust become more obvious. A Trust should save your family money, shorten the time it takes to handle your affairs and maintain your privacy during the process. For taxable estates, Trusts can be designed to minimize federal estate taxes. Trusts can also be used as a platform to create trusts for family members to protect them from the creditors and predators of life or sometimes from themselves. Trusts are wonderful planning tools but not for everyone. Our job is to help you answer this question based on good information and wisdom.