Do I need a trust?

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Do I need a trust?

I am a married male with a wife and one grown daughter and 3 grandchildren, living in Florida. I have a small estate, just a house, 3 vehicles and no investments. If either I or my wife dies first, we plan to put in our wills that everything goes to the surviving spouse. I know trusts sometimes avoid probate, but with such a simple estate, do I need to worry about avoiding Florida’s probate? Would a will be all I need, or do I need a trust or other vehicle? Thanks

Asked on January 22, 2019 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Remember, with a trust, you take your assets out of your direct control and put the in the hands of a trustee, who is supposed to (is legally obligated to) follow the terms or instructions of the trust, but who may not do so. The main valid reasons for a trust is not to avoid probate--I do not know why everyone fears probate so much; it is not a particularly onerous or expensive thing--but
1) if you don't trust the people getting the assets and want someone  else to make decisions for them or manage the money for them.
2) You looking to set up a structure to support or provide for several generations.
For a simple estate, a will is fine. If you and your wife are on the house's title as joint tenants with right of survivorship, the survivor instantly and automatically becomes sole owner without the house going through probate when one of you dies. If you are both on the vehicles' titles, then when one passes, the other keeps the vehicle. So really, the main assets can even pass outside of probate, and your will covers just your money and personal property (jewlery, electronics, etc.).


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