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A "living" trust (also called an "inter vivos" trust) is simply a trust you create while you're alive. The beneficiaries you name in your living trust receive the trust property when you die. You could instead use a will, but wills must go through probate—the court process that oversees the transfer of your property to your beneficiaries.
Many people create a revocable living trust as part of their estate plan. These trusts can be modified or revoked at any time. Typically, you'll name yourself as the "trustee" of your trust. This means that while you are alive, you retain control of the trust and its property. In your trust document, you will also name a "successor trustee" to take over and manage the trust (distribute your property) after you die. (If you create a shared living trust, as is often done by spouses, then your successor trustee would assume control after both spouses have died.)
In contrast, irrevocable trusts cannot be revoked or modified after they are signed. Irrevocable trusts can be useful tools for specific goals, like reducing taxes, but they require giving up ownership and control of trust property.
Yes, you'll still need a will. This might seem confusing—isn't the point of a living trust to avoid needing a will? Yes, it is, and your will might never be used. But you should still write one, for one or both of the following reasons:
Designating a guardian for minor children. You cannot use a trust to name a guardian for your minor children. For this reason alone, if you have minor children, you should write a will that names the guardian.
Accounting for property that you have not transferred to your trust. It happens all the time—people create a trust and forget to formally transfer property to the trust (for example, they never get around to changing the deed on their house). Or, people buy or inherit property after they've set up their trust and forget or don't know to take ownership as the trustee of their trust. Either way, the property will not be distributed according to the terms of the trust. You should have a will as a backup to dictate how assets not in the trust should be distributed.
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We help families in Miami, Hileah, Kendall, Miami Beach, Westchester and Dade County locally and outside of Florida when issues need to be handled for a family member’s estate within the state of Florida.
Locally, clients come to us from Coconut Grove, Pinecrest, Wynwood, Key Biscayne, Star Island, Hibiscus Island, The Venetian Islands, North Beach, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Fisher Island and Miami-Dade County.
We welcome your questions and want to understand your situation to help you move forward and achieve the peace of mind that comes with having everything done properly and efficiently. Call our law office at (305) 402-4494(305) 402-4494 with questions, a description of your situation to see if we can assist, or to schedule a consultation. Or you may simply fill out the form above on this page. Your form will be directly emailed to our office, and you can expect a reply within one business day and often within hours the same day. All information you share is confidential.
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.