Trusts can be an important tool for Florida residents’ estate plans. These estate-planning tools have long been used to help reduce or avoid estate taxes for assets that are designed to be passed on to heirs. However, may Floridians may not realize that their own estates may benefit from the use of a trust for wealth transfer. Trust matters warrant a second look by clients and their Florida attorneys, as tax savings may not be the only incentive to use this valuable estate-planning strategy.

In addition to providing shelter from estate taxes and other penalties, trusts can also shield assets and provide additional wealth control. Attorneys say that trusts can be used to control assets if the benefactor becomes incapacitated while still alive. Trust assets may be used, for example, for medical care and other expenses accumulated during the end-of-life stages. A properly drafted revocable trust may also provide control over distributions for future generations. The same revocable trust may be useful during life and after death.

Trusts can also help beneficiaries avoid certain parts of the state probate process. Probate proceedings can be inconvenient because they are associated with additional costs. Further, asset allocation and distribution information may be made public during the probate process. An attorney may help clients maintain their estate’s privacy by structuring trusts that allow the grantor to pass assets to the beneficiary.

A variety of trust options exist for those who are considering estate-planning changes. Probate attorneys can explain the differences between irrevocable trusts, revocable or living trusts, specialized trusts for residences and a variety of other legal options. Even those who have never considered using a trust in their estate plan should review the benefits of this valuable estate-planning tool.

Luis E. Barreto