Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jan 5, 2020

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Is it beneficial to have a trust, a living trust or a living will as part of an estate planning package in Florida? The answer is – it depends upon your situation. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to determine what suits your needs.

Attorney Sarah E. Peart

In a recent interview, Sarah E. Peart, an attorney from Tampa Florida whose practice focuses mainly in the areas of wills, trusts, estate planning and real estate law, explained when trusts, living trusts and living wills might be beneficial to Floridians:

  • Florida Trusts. Trusts are more expensive than wills, but they’re a different type of vehicle that is often used to protect assets and assist with tax planning. The trust takes all the assets in the trust out of probate. Anything that you’ve put into the trust is not a probate asset, so that saves the time and expense of going through the court system. Another major reason to use a trust is for tax planning purposes and an attorney will be able to advise you if a trust is beneficial to you. While not everyone needs a trust, you should speak with an attorney and give them all the facts of your situation so that the attorney can find the proper solution for you.
  • Florida Living trusts. A living trust is known as an inter vivos trust in Florida and they’re commonly used here. Basically, the settlor of the trust, who is also known as a grantor in many other states, retains an interest in the trust throughout his or her life. Then, the trust assets are devised according to the terms of the trust when something happens to the settlor. However, the settlor retains the interests to the trust assets throughout his life with a living trust.
  • Florida Living will. A living will is a document where you express your wishes concerning life-prolonging measures. A healthcare surrogate can also be appointed in a separate document to make any health care or medical decisions for you that you haven’t already expressed in your living will or advanced care directive. Many of my clients will skip the living will and just appoint a healthcare surrogate, putting all the decision-making power in the surrogate’s hands. Now, obviously if you’re going to do that you want to make sure you trust the person 100% percent and that you’ve already discussed your wishes with them so that they know what to do if something should happen to you.

Estate planning is a very specific area of law that encompasses wills, trusts, health care directives, probate and more. Click here, to contact an experienced Florida estate planning attorney to discuss your situation.