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  • Writer's pictureEvan Miller

Understanding the Difference Between a Will and a Revocable Trust in Florida

Updated: Dec 1, 2023


When it comes to estate planning in Florida, individuals often have two primary options to ensure the orderly distribution of their assets and the protection of their loved ones' financial future: a will and a revocable trust. Both serve as essential tools in estate planning, but they have distinct features and benefits.


The Will

A will, also known as a "last will and testament," is a legal document that outlines how a person's assets and property should be distributed after their death. Here are some key aspects of a will in Florida:

  1. Distribution of Assets: A will provides clear instructions for the distribution of your assets, specifying who should inherit what. This includes real estate, bank accounts, personal property, and other valuable items.

  2. Appointment of Guardians: If you have minor children, a will allows you to name a guardian for them in the event of your passing. This ensures that your children are cared for by someone you trust.

  3. Executor/Personal Representative: You can name an executor/personal representative in your will, who will be responsible for managing your estate and ensuring that your wishes are carried out.

  4. Probate: Wills typically go through the probate process in Florida, which is a court-supervised procedure to validate the will and distribute assets. Probate can be time-consuming and costly.


The Revocable Trust

A revocable trust, also known as a living trust, is another estate planning tool that offers several advantages, especially in Florida:

  1. Avoidance of Probate: One of the primary benefits of a revocable trust is that it allows your assets to bypass the probate process. This means that your beneficiaries can receive their inheritances more quickly and with fewer expenses.

  2. Privacy: Unlike wills, which become public records during probate, revocable trusts offer greater privacy. The details of your estate and your beneficiaries' inheritances remain confidential.

  3. Continuity of Management: In the event of your incapacity, the successor trustee you've named can seamlessly take over the management of your trust, avoiding the need for guardianship proceedings.

  4. Flexibility: Revocable trusts are flexible and can be amended or revoked during your lifetime. You maintain control over your assets and can make changes as your circumstances change.

  5. Asset Protection: Depending on the terms of the trust, assets held in a revocable trust may be protected from creditors and certain legal claims.


Conclusion

While both wills and revocable trusts serve important roles in estate planning, a revocable trust offers distinct advantages in Florida, including the avoidance of probate, greater privacy, and flexibility. It's important to consult with an experienced estates and trusts attorney in Florida to determine the best approach for your specific situation, taking into consideration your goals and needs for asset distribution and estate management.

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