Revocable Living Trusts Lawyers Answer FAQ's About TrustsAvoid Probate - Control Assets
Revocable Living Trusts Lawyers Answer FAQs About Trusts
The following frequently asked questions regarding revocable living trusts should provide the answers to most of your questions. If you have additional questions please call your Jacksonville and Palm Coast revocable living trusts lawyers for estate planning, wills and trusts, at 904-448-1969 in Jacksonville, 386-585-7004 in Palm Coast, or toll free 866-510-9099, or email us at Info@TheColemanLawFirm.com to schedule your estate planning consultation.
1. I have a will. Why would I want a revocable living trust?
Why should I consider a revocable living trust?
Also, because a last will and testament can only go into effect after you die, it provides no protection if you become physically or mentally incapacitated. So the probate court could easily take control of your assets before you die through a probate court supervised guardianship – a concern of millions of older Americans and their families.
Fortunately, there is a proven alternative to a will — the revocable living trust. It avoids probate, and lets you keep control of your assets while you are living — even if you become incapacitated — and provides for the management and distribution of your assets after you die. If you would like for revocable living trusts lawyers to answer your questions about revocable living trusts, please call us at 904-448-1969, or toll free at 866-510-9099, or email us at Info@TheColemanLawFirm.com.
2. What is probate?
Probate is the legal process through which the court ensures that, upon your death, your legally enforceable debts are paid, and your assets are distributed according to your wishes, if you have a valid last will and testament. If you don’t have a valid will, your assets are distributed according to the intestacy statute in the state of your residence at the time of you death. Intestacy often does not provide the same plan for the distribution of your assets that you would have provided with your own last will and testament. Revocable living trusts, when properly funded, can avoid the probate process, as well as allow you to control your assets in the event of incapacity.
3. Why should I try to avoid probate?
It takes time, usually nine months to two years, but often longer. During part of this time, assets are usually frozen so an accurate inventory can be taken. Nothing can be distributed or sold without court and/or executor/personal representative approval. If your family needs money to live on, they must request a living allowance from the probate court, which may be denied, even if the funds are available.
Your family has no privacy. Probate is a public process, so any “interested party” can see at least some of what you owned, whom you owed, who will receive your assets and when they will receive them. The process “invites” disgruntled heirs to contest your will and can expose your family to unscrupulous solicitors and consequent dissipation of assets.
Your family has no control. The probate process determines how much it will cost, how long it will take, and what information is made public. The probate judge, probate law, as expressed in the probate code, and the probate rules of court determine all of the actions that take place in the probate process.
Our revocable living trusts lawyers can answer your questions about how to avoid probate and control your assets during disability and provide for the efficient transfer of your assets at death, at the least amount of professional costs and fees. Call us today for an appointment to see how we can assist you achieve peace of mind with a revocable living trust, at 904-448-1969, or toll free at 866-510-9099, or email us at Info@TheColemanLawFirm.com.
4. Doesn’t joint ownership avoid probate?
Watch out for other problems. When you add a co-owner, you lose control. Your chances of being named in a lawsuit and of losing the asset to a creditor are increased. There could be gift and/or income tax problems. Since a will does not control most jointly owned assets, you could disinherit your family.
There may be adverse estate tax consequences of owning property jointly with right of survivorship, that could cost your family the loss of your estate tax exemption which might cause additional estate taxes of several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
With some assets, especially real estate, all owners must sign to sell or refinance. So if a co-owner becomes incapacitated, you could find yourself with a new “co-owner” — the court–even if the incapacitated owner is your spouse.
Get the answers to all of your questions from our revocable living trusts lawyers by calling (904) 448-1969, or toll free to (866) 510-9099, or email us at Info@TheColemanLawFirm.com.
5. What happens if I become incapacitated? Will the Court take over?
Once the probate court gets involved, it usually stays involved until you recover or die and it, not your family, will control how your assets are used to care for you. This public, probate process, called a “guardianship of the person and property” in Florida, can be expensive, embarrassing, time consuming and difficult to end. It does not replace probate at death, so your family may have to go through probate court twice!
Our revocable living trusts lawyers can show you how to control your assets through the use of a living trust should you develop an incapacity.
6. Does a durable power of attorney prevent this?
A durable power of attorney lets you name someone to manage your financial affairs if you are unable to do so, while you remain alive. The power of attorney ceases to have any effect upon your death. However, many financial institutions will not honor one unless it is on their form. If accepted, it may work too well, giving someone a “blank check” to do whatever he/she wants with your assets. It can be very effective when used with a living trust, but risky when used alone.
7. What is a revocable living trust?
A revocable living trust is a legal document that, just like a will, contains your instructions for what you want to happen to your assets when you die. But, unlike a will, a revocable living trust can avoid probate at death, control all of your assets, and prevent the court from controlling your assets if you become incapacitated.
8. How does a revocable living trust avoid probate and prevent court control of assets at incapacity?
Legally you no longer own anything; everything now belongs to your revocable living trust. So there is nothing for the probate courts to control when you die or become incapacitated. The concept is simple, but this is what can keep you and your family out of the probate courts.
Staying out of probate depends on property funding your revocable trust. Our revocable living trusts lawyers provide clear guidance and the assistance of our “funding coordinator” to ensure that your assets are properly titled to your living trusts so that you in fact do avoid probate.
9. Do I lose control of the assets in my revocable living trust?
Absolutely not. You keep full control. As trustee of your revocable trust, you can do anything you could do before — buy and sell assets, change or even cancel your revocable living trust. That’s why it’s called a revocable living trust. You even file the same tax returns. Nothing changes but the names on the titles.
10. Is it hard to transfer assets into my revocable living trust?
No, and your estate planning attorney, trust officer, financial adviser and insurance agent can help. Typically, you will change titles on real estate, stocks, CDs, bank accounts, investments, insurance and other assets with titles through a process called “funding” your revocable living trust. Most revocable living trusts also include jewelry, clothes, art, furniture, and other assets that do not have titles.
Some beneficiary designations (for example, insurance policies) should also be changed to your revocable living trust so the probate court can’t control them if a beneficiary is incapacitated or no longer living when you die. (IRA, 401(k), etc. can be exceptions.)
Our revocable living trusts attorneys will not only give you expert guidance on the steps to properly fund your living trusts, we have a full time “funding coordinator” who will help you get all of the detail work completed timely so that your revocable trust accomplishes your goal of probate avoidance.
11. Doesn’t this take a lot of time to fund a revocable living trust?
12. Should I consider a corporate trustee for my revocable living trust?
13. If something happens to me, who has control of my revocable living trust?
14. What does a successor trustee of a revocable living trust do?
Your successor trustee selection may be the most important decision you make with regard to your revocable trust. The successor trustee is the one who will be charged with the responsibility to follow your directions and instructions for the management and ultimate distribution of your trust assets. Our revocable living trusts lawyers work with you closely to help you choose the most appropriate person, or combination of people, to fulfill your desires with regard to the administration of your revocable trust either during your incapacity or at your death.
15. Who can be successor trustees for my revocable living trust?
16. Does my revocable living trust end when I die?
Unlike a will, a revocable living trust doesn’t have to die with you. Assets can stay in your revocable living trust, managed by the trustee you selected, until your beneficiaries reach the age(s) you want them to inherit. Your revocable living trust can continue longer to provide for a loved one with special needs, or to protect the assets from beneficiaries’ creditors, spouses and future death taxes.
17. How can a revocable living trust save on estate taxes ('death taxes')?
18. Doesn’t a testamentary trust in a will do the same thing as a revocable living trust?
19. Is a revocable living trust expensive?
Not when compared to all of the costs of court interference at incapacity and death. How much you pay will depend primarily on your goals and what you want to accomplish with your revocable living trust.
20. How long does it take to get a revocable living trust?
21. Should I have an attorney do my revocable living trust?
22. If I have a revocable living trust, do I still need a will?
Yes, you need a “pour-over” will that acts as a safety net if you forget to transfer an asset to your revocable living trust. When you die, the will “catches” the forgotten asset and sends it into your revocable living trust. The asset may have to go through probate first, but it can then be distributed as part of your overall revocable living trust plan. Also, if you have minor children, a guardian will need to be named in the will.
23. Is a “living will” the same as a living trust?
24. Are revocable living trusts new?
25. Who should have a revocable living trust?
26. Summary of Revocable Living Trust Benefits
Prevents court control of assets at incapacity
Brings all of your assets together under one plan
Provides maximum privacy
Quicker distribution of assets to beneficiaries
Assets can remain in trust until you want beneficiaries to inherit
Can reduce or eliminate estate taxes
Inexpensive, easy to set up and maintain
Can be changed or cancelled at any time
Difficult to contest
Prevents court control of minors’ inheritances
Can protect dependents with special needs
Prevents unintentional disinheriting and other problems of joint ownership
Professional management with corporate trustee
Peace of mind