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Gregory A. Ebenfeld, P.A.
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What Is A Revocable Living Trust?

The cornerstone of many estate plans is a revocable living trust. A revocable living trust — also known as a living trust, grantor trust or a family trust — is a legal document that holds title or ownership to your real property and assets. When you create a revocable living trust you transfer ownership of your assets to the trust. Transferring assets is typically called funding. When you transfer title, you do not relinquish any control. You can still buy, sell, borrow or transfer.

A revocable trust is a type of will substitute. It includes the details and instructions for how you want your estate to be distributed at your death. Unlike a will, however, a properly funded trust does not go through the probate process.

The probate process is a long and expensive process which can cost anywhere from 3 percent to 10 percent of the estate and take from six months to many years to complete.

A trust also prevents the courts from controlling your assets at incapacity and gives you control over the assets you leave to your minor children or grandchildren.

Many people ask is they will lose control of their assets with a living trust. The answer is No! The living trust is a written legal document that allows you unlimited access to and full control of your assets during your lifetime. It also enables you to pass property after death to family, friends and/or loved ones. It allows you to appoint someone (a successor trustee) to make certain the property goes to the ones you choose after death.

If you have assets over $300,000, you should consider speaking with an estate planning attorney to determine if a revocable living trust is appropriate for you.

Estate Planning For The Separated Or Divorced

The average person often overlooks estate planning. In fact, most people spend more time planning a vacation than they do their estates.

For anyone going through a family crisis, such as separation and divorce, estate planning should be a top priority.

In Florida, if you have a will that gives property to your spouse and you die before a divorce is final, the surviving spouse is still entitled to a share of your estate.

After a divorce becomes final, the provisions of a will which affect the former spouse are void. This statute brings a sigh of relief to the beneficiaries of people who died after a divorce having neglected to make a new will, but this only solves some of the problems.

Here are seven things to consider:

  1. Re-evaluate the entire estate for possible changes in beneficiaries, tax consequences or federal marital deductions. Many estate plans take into account the federal marital deduction which allows couples to make gifts either during life or at death between married individuals. This changes after a divorce.

  2. Change the personal representative of the will. Many couples use a relative of the husband or wife as the personal representative of their wills. When a divorce occurs, most people no longer want a former in-law to represent their interests on anything, especially something as important as a will.

  3. Change the successor guardian for your minor children.

  4. Check into a revocable living trust. For people with assets of over $300,000, a revocable living trust should be considered to help avoid the long and costly probate process.

  5. A revocable living trust can plan for any disability you may incur without the need to go to court for a guardianship.

  6. Make sure a new will is written after the divorce is final to reflect your new estate planning objectives.

  7. Make sure a new durable power of attorney, health care surrogate and living will are drafted with new people that have legal authority to make these decisions.

The Benefits Of A Revocable Living Trust

Why should your family have to pay an attorney a fee to collect money that already belongs to them?

Our firm believes that a living trust is truly the finest final gift you can give your heirs and, at the same time, give yourself complete peace of mind. That is because a living trust:

  • Avoids probate along with the tremendous costs and lengthy delays of the probate system
  • Prevents guardianship after mental or physical incapacity
  • Can change or modify any of the provisions at any time
  • Is very secure and almost never contested
  • Avoids ancillary probate when you own property out-of-state
  • Allows immediate distribution to your heirs and is perhaps the single most important benefit of a trust
  • Maintains control of your assets, even if incompetent or even after death; you never lose
    control
  • Is a private document, unlike a will, and remains so within the family
  • Eliminates federal estate taxes if you are a married couple with an estate of up to $2 million
  • Assesses no settlement fees to your heirs when they take over management of your estate
  • Is very inexpensive and economical when compared to the high costs of probate created by the use of a will
  • Provides smooth and continuous management over your estate

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