MIAMI, Florida — Denise Jomarron Legal Group, an estate planning, elder law, and probate law firm in Miami, Florida, weighs in on the passage of Florida’s amended trust law’s effect on Spousal Lifetime Access Trusts (SLAT). Florida Senate Bill 1502 (Bill), sponsored by Senator Bobby Powell (D), was unanimously passed by the Florida House and Senate, and was signed into law by Governor DeSantis on May 10, 2022. The Bill became effective on July 1, 2022.
The new law, among other things, allows the grantor spouse of a SLAT established and funded under Florida law after June 30, 2022, to be added as a beneficiary of the SLAT after the death of the non-grantor spouse while likely keeping the assets of the SLAT outside of the grantor spouse’s estate and shielded from the grantor spouse’s personal creditors.
Before the Bill’s passage, one of the main disadvantages of a SLAT in Florida was that upon the beneficiary spouse’s death, the grantor spouse lost the ability to indirectly benefit from the SLAT’s assets that could have previously been used to benefit the beneficiary spouse. However, the Bill does not allow the grantor spouse to be added as a beneficiary upon divorce. It also requires the beneficiary spouse to be a beneficiary of the SLAT for their entire lifetime, which would most likely include any time period following a potential divorce.
In addition to the new SLAT provisions, the Bill amends probate and trust law to allow trustees to resign from a trust with less than 30 days’ notice if the trust instrument expressly allows for it. The Bill also allows that if creditor lawsuits are pending at the time of the decedent’s death, the requirement to bring an independent action is satisfied if certain conditions are met.
Florida’s position as a tax and debtor-friendly jurisdiction has been strengthened by the state’s recent adoption of this SLAT-friendly legislation. Despite the advantages of SLATs, it is still possible that the IRS will decide that the assets of the SLAT should be included in the grantor spouse’s estate once the grantor spouse has been added as a beneficiary.
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