Differences Between a ‘Last Will and Testament’ and a ‘Living Trust’ under Florida Law

Everyone wishes for the well-being of their family members and loved ones after they are gone. Surely enough, you feel the same way. But this isn’t a pleasant thing to do. No one wants to plan what happens after they have passed. However, it’s a legal necessity.

In the Sunshine State, you often have two options to plan these affairs – a last will and testament or a Living Trust. As you can imagine, the debate between a last will vs. a living trust is never-ending.

So, when contemplating and safeguarding your legacy, you will need to understand the similarities and differences between a will and a trust in Florida. While both options help you reach the same destination, they take significantly different routes. In other words, this choice affects your loved ones and family members. So, you need to be careful.

What is a Last Will and Testament Under Florida Law?

A Last Will and Testament, also known as a Will, is a legal document that outlines the disposition of your property after your death. With a will, you can designate a person who acts as a ‘personal representative’ or executor after your death. The personal representative can be your spouse, sibling, parent, child, or other close relative. Usually, the executor presents the will to the court. It protects your legacy after you are gone.

The benefits of a will include:

#1. You Can Choose the Beneficiaries

You can choose the beneficiaries. You can also choose to add or remove the beneficiaries as needed. Florida estate planning law allows you to designate who gets what. It ensures that your cherished possessions find their way into the right hands. However, you will need a will and trust attorney in Florida to make these changes.

#2. Your Will Guides the Probate Process

This is one of the key differences between a will and a trust in Florida. Your will takes center stage for validation in the probate process. It’s the process of making sure your script meets all the legal criteria before the final act. It ensures that your wishes are honored according to the law.

#3. You Can Setup Guardianship for Minors

If you have minor children, your will is where you cast the supporting roles of guardians. You can decide who will care for your little ones when you no longer can. It’s your way of ensuring a supportive environment for them, even in your absence.

#4. Your Will Is Not Private

Unlike a living trust, which enjoys a bit of privacy, your will is a public affair. Once it hits the probate stage, it becomes part of the public record. So, you can’t keep the details a secret from the public eye. For many, this becomes a serious setback in the living trust vs. will debate in Florida. 

What is a Living Trust under Florida Law?

When it comes to a last will vs. a living trust, a living trust may seem like an attractive option for most people. A living trust is a dynamic legal document designed to manage, protect, and distribute your assets during your lifetime and beyond. It’s not just one-size-fits-all either; it’s tailor-made to suit your unique needs and preferences.

#1. Your Living Trust Needs a Trustee

A living trust allows you to transfer all your assets into a trust during your lifetime. You can wear two hats while managing your trust. You can be the grantor, the one who creates the trust. You can also be the trustee who manages the trust. You will need a will and trust attorney in Florida to set up the trust per your needs.

During your lifetime, you maintain control as the trustee. The trustee is the behind-the-scenes director. They ensure everything runs smoothly. So, you will need to nominate a trustee who will take over after your death. Your trustee will distribute your assets after paying the dues, like debts and taxes, to your loved ones as instructed.

#2. You Can Amend Your Trust

This is one more point you will need to consider when choosing between a trust or will in Florida. A living trust can be amended and you may update it as your life unfolds.

You can make changes to beneficiaries or add or remove assets with the help of your lawyer. There is no need for a ceremonial pronouncement either. You can make a quick update whenever needed.

#3. You Can Avoid Probate

Probate is a court-supervised process where the will’s intended beneficiaries are identified. Following your demise, it will determine your assets, settle any outstanding debts and liabilities, and distribute the remaining assets to the appropriate legal beneficiaries. However, with a living trust, you don’t need this court-supervised process. Your assets can go to your loved ones as intended. That’s one of the major distinctions you will need to consider between a living trust vs. a will in Florida.

#4. You Can Get Incapacity Protection

Life doesn’t always follow the script. But your living trust has your back, especially when you become incapacitated. When you are unable to manage your affairs due to illness or injury, your trustee can step in to manage your affairs. 

Certainly, establishing a succession plan is crucial. Once you do so, the proceedings will continue seamlessly.

Understand The Differences Between a Will and a Trust in Florida

The primary difference between a will and a trust in Florida lies in the probate process. A will must go through the probate court, undergoing scrutiny and potential delays. On the other hand, a trust bypasses this and goes straight to the beneficiaries. 

Another crucial distinction is the incapacity factor. A will is only active after your passing. It can leave you vulnerable during your twilight years. Conversely, a trust functions like a loyal companion. It stands by your side even when life throws unexpected storms.

Now, let’s consider the costs. Probate can rack up fees. But with a trust, it can save your estate both time and money.

Contact the Attorneys at C. Alvarez Law For Help

The choice between a trust or will in Florida is a tough one. A last will and testament gives you the power to designate beneficiaries and create a narrative for your final act. On the other hand, a living trust offers flexibility, privacy, and a smoother transition. But the final choice is yours. Hopefully, this post will help you make an informed decision. However, consulting a lawyer would help you understand which option best suits your needs.

Are you looking for a will and trust attorney in Florida? Turn to C. Alvarez Law. Our experienced lawyers can help you plan your estate. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

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C. Alvarez Law

C. Alvarez Law is a Central Florida-based law firm that helps families find resolutions to their most complex family law issues. We are dedicated to providing the support and advice you need for a positive outcome and a better life. Before you can move on with your life, you need closure. Our firm is diverse, energetic, and passionate about delivering this for the clients who have placed their trust in us. Let’s work together today to find a better tomorrow.

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