Revocable Living Trusts in Florida

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					REVOCABLE LIVING
TRUSTS IN FLORIDA
 The Average Person Creating an Estate Plan
   Usually Has Little to No Understanding
    of What Trusts Are, Much Less What
         a Revocable Living Trust Is




               ROBERT J. KULAS
    FLORIDA ESTATE AND MEDICAID PLANNING ATTORNEY
    Almost everyone creating an estate plan today                     ●   ●   ●

    will benefit by making a revocable living trust.
                                                            To get an idea of what a
                                                           revocable living trust is, it
    Unfortunately, the average person creating a
                                                          might be useful to think of
    plan usually has little to no understanding of
                                                           an imaginary friend, such
    what trusts are, much less what a revocable
                                                          as one you might have had
    living trust is. Beginning the estate planning             in your childhood.
    process with as much information as possible is       Revocable living trusts are,
    always a good idea. If you take the time to learn          in many ways, like
    some basic concepts, you’ll be able to not only            imaginary friends.
                                                                      ●   ●   ●
    craft a better plan with your estate planning
    lawyer, but you won’t feel lost or overwhelmed by the process. To help you
    establish a base of knowledge, here are some key points you should know about
    revocable living trusts.

    YOUR FICTIONAL FRIEND

    To get an idea of what a revocable living trust is, it might be useful to think of an
    imaginary friend, such as one you might have had in your childhood. Revocable
    living trusts are, in many ways, like imaginary friends. Trusts have no physical
    presence. You can’t touch them, can’t talk to them, and they don’t exist outside of
    a piece of paper.

    Nevertheless, revocable living trusts have legal value. The law recognizes these
    tools and allows them the ability to own property. Because of this, revocable
    living trusts play a key role in estate planning. When you create a revocable living
    trust, you’ll use it as a sort of holding company for your individually owned
    property. Though you will still be able to use, maintain, and benefit from the




Revocable Living Trusts in Florida           www.kulaslaw.com                               2
    property transferred into the trust, doing so will give your estate plan significant
    benefits.

    TRUSTS AND PROBATE

    The reason revocable living trusts are so
    important to estate planning is because they
    allow your state to avoid one of the main
    problems it faces. That problem is probate.

    Probate is a legal process in which the
    property you leave behind after you die will be
    inventoried, accounted for, and distributed to
    your legal heirs. Like many other legal
    processes, probate takes a long time. It is also
    highly regulated. There are many specific laws
    and rules that apply throughout this process in
    order to make it uniform and fair.

    What that means for the average person is that if you leave behind property that
    has to go through this probate process, your family will not be able to become the
    new legal owner of that property until probate is finished. This can take months,
    and in some cases, even years. Throughout that time, your estate will have to foot
    the bill when it comes to fees and costs associated with this process.

    PROBATE AND YOUR LIVING TRUST
    At this point you might be wondering how a living trust helps your estate avoid
    probate. It’s really rather simple. Remember that imaginary friend? Well, because your
    imaginary friend has been given legal substance, that friend can continue to exist after



Revocable Living Trusts in Florida            www.kulaslaw.com                             3
    you die. If you transfer all your property into your friend’s name, that friend will still be
    the legal owner after you’re gone. Because your imaginary friend owns the property and
    not you, there is no reason for probate court to get involved.

    So, by creating your revocable living trust and transferring your property to it, you get
    to avoid probate. Further, because you are the one who creates the revocable living
    trust, you also get to determine the rules under which the trust will operate. This
    includes the ability to determine how the trust will transfer property to your heirs after
    you die. Though this is, in effect, the same way you would transfer property to your
    heirs if you had written a last will and testament, because you are doing it through a
    revocable living trust you don’t have to go through probate to do so.



    CREATING THE TRUST

    So, now that you know how living trust let your estate avoid probate, you’ll need
    to get down to the actual work of creating one. This process isn’t too difficult,
                                                  though there are some specific laws
                                                  that apply. Your estate planning
                                                  attorney will guide you through the
                                                  process to ensure that you comply
                                                  with these laws, but in essence all you
                                                  will be doing is creating a document
                                                  that states some particular details.

                                                  First, your document will have to
    identify who will serve as the trust beneficiary. The beneficiary is the person who
    gets to use the property the trust owns. The great thing about a revocable living
    trust is that you can name yourself as the beneficiary. You can also identify who



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    will become the beneficiaries once you die. These beneficiaries will effectively
    inherit the property you leave behind.

    Second, you’ll have to identify a trustee. A trustee has the duty to manage the
    property the trust owns. Trustees can be almost anyone you choose. However,
    because the property the trust will own is the property you already own, most
    people creating a revocable living trust choose to serve as the trustee themselves.

    So, when you create a living trust you choose yourself as both the beneficiary and
    the trustee. At no time during the trust creation process will you lose control over
    your property or have to choose someone else who will step in to manage it for
    you.

    Finally, you’ll have to complete the funding process once you’ve written the trust
    instrument. Funding is simply taking your property and transferring it into the
    trust’s name. This can be simple or complicated depending on the type of
    property you wish to transfer. Further, you have to be very careful when you go
    through the funding process. If you make a mistake or leave something out, your
    trust won’t be the legal owner. Any property you fail to fund properly will have to
    go through the probate process.



    In our next discussion on living trusts, we will go into more detail about the
    process, how the trusts work, and what you can do to make sure your trust works
    properly. In the meantime, if you have any questions about these tools, talk to
    your estate planning attorney.


    About the Author



Revocable Living Trusts in Florida           www.kulaslaw.com                              5
                          Robert J. Kulas

                          Robert is the founder and principal shareholder in the Port St. Lucie and
                          Vero Beach law offices of Robert J. Kulas, P.A. Because he believes that
                          helping his clients manage their personal affairs wisely is one of the most
                          worthwhile professional activities he can pursue, he has devoted his
                          practice exclusively to estate planning.

                            Robert has invested considerable time and energy helping to educate
                            others in estate planning and is widely regarded as a dynamic speaker
    who can make even the most complex estate planning issues easy to grasp. He provides free
    monthly seminars to inform the public on the importance of proper estate planning. For over
    twenty years, thousands of people have come to hear him speak. “Helping people understand
    their options for estate planning is very important to me,” Robert said. “I like to think that
    people in our community can look to me for the kind of quality information they need to decide
    what is best for them and their families.”

    About Robert J. Kulas, P.A. Attorneys at Law
    Robert J. Kulas, P.A. Attorneys at Law is a full service estate planning and wealth preservation
    law firm servicing Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach, Florida.

    The firm is dedicated to providing you with quality estate planning resources, so you can
    become familiar with all of the existing options. When you visit or call the office, we want you
    to feel comfortable discussing such an important issue concerning both you and your family.
    We want to arm you with the information you need to make an informed decision about your
    family's future.




                                       www.kulaslaw.com
        East Lake Professional Center                     Univest Building
      2100 SE Hillmoor Drive, Suite 105           2770 Indian River Blvd., Suite 321
          Port St. Lucie, FL 34952                      Vero Beach, FL 32960
           Phone: (772) 398-0720                       Phone: (772) 778-8481




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Description: The average person creating an estate plan usually has little to no understanding of what trusts are, much less what a revocable living trust is. Learn more here: http://kulaslaw.com/estate_planning/index.php/living-trusts/