April 23, 2024
Living Trust in Florida: Steps and Requirements

by Denis Kleinfeld

Creating a living trust in Florida is a smart move in estate planning. It brings benefits for you and your family. Knowing the steps and rules makes sure your assets go where you want. This guide is perfect if you are thinking about a living trust or just want to learn about estate planning in Florida.

The process of a Florida Living Trust has some key steps and rules. You need to list your assets, pick a person to manage the trust (trustee), and decide who gets what (beneficiaries). These parts are important for a smooth start. Knowing Florida’s specific rules helps you do things right.

For a living trust in Florida, getting advice from a legal professional is wise. A Florida Living Trust attorney knows the ins and outs. They can guide you in making smart choices. They help ensure your trust matches your needs and goals.

This article covers everything about living trusts in Florida. We’ll talk about steps, what you gain, and key points to think about. This info will help you with your estate planning.

Key Takeaways:

  • Creating a living trust in Florida helps a lot with estate planning.
  • To succeed, understand the process and rules for a living trust.
  • Getting help from a Florida Living Trust attorney is very beneficial.
  • Trusts offer benefits like skipping probate, easy asset sharing, and privacy.
  • Florida’s details matter, including its rules, lists, and picking a trustee.

What Is a Living Trust?

A living trust lets you move your assets to your loved ones without probate. It can be revocable or irrevocable. With a revocable trust, you can change it whenever you want. But, once you set up an irrevocable trust, you can’t change it.

A living trust has benefits over a will. It avoids probate, the process of asset distribution through court. Probate can take a long time and cost a lot. A living trust makes everything private and simple.

Furthermore, it gives you more say over your stuff while you’re alive. You get to determine how your assets are managed and given out. This means your exact wishes are followed.

A living trust is a great tool for estate planning. It gives control and privacy while making asset distribution easy.


Understanding the differences is key to choosing well for your estate planning. Let’s check out living trusts vs. wills.

Living Trust Will
Assets skip probate Go through probate
Can be changed by the person setting it up Takes effect after the person’s death
Keeps dealings private Becomes a public document
Gives strong control while alive Less control while alive

Both tools are good for estate planning. But a living trust gives you more flexibility and privacy. Always talk to a lawyer or estate planner to know what’s best for you.

Now, let’s see if a living trust is right for you in Florida and its benefits in the state.

Do I Need a Living Trust in Florida?

In Florida, thinking about estate planning leads to a key question: Do I need a living trust? A living trust has its perks, like skipping probate. Yet, it’s vital to know about the probate process and the simpler paths for small estates in the state. This info is crucial to decide what’s best for you.

Florida makes probate easier for some estates and simpler for tiny ones. This could change if you need a living trust. For instance, if your estate can use these easier paths, or if your property can’t be taken by creditors, skipping probate might not be reason enough to set up a trust. Think about other benefits, too.

A living trust gives you more say and freedom than a will. You can spell out how you want your things handled, for both now and after you’re gone. This comes in handy if you have clear ideas about who gets what, or if you wish to support your family in a special way.

“A living trust allows you to maintain control over your assets even after your death, ensuring a smooth and efficient transfer to your beneficiaries.”

Also, a living trust keeps your info off public records, unlike a will. This secrecy is useful if you want to keep your estate’s details and its heirs quiet.

Plus, owning property in several states can make a living trust very useful. It stops the need for extra probates in those states. This could save your family both time and effort.

To wrap it up, even though probate rules in Florida have been made easier, a living trust might still be a good move. It lets you control how your assets are shared, keeps everything private, and makes managing assets in many states less of a hassle. For the best choice on a living trust, talking to an estate lawyer is smart. They can check your situation and help you weigh your options.

Do I Still Need a Will If I Make a Living Trust?

Having a living trust doesn’t replace the need for a will. A will does things that a living trust can’t do on its own.

Designating a guardian for minor children:

A will lets you choose someone to take care of your kids if you die. A living trust can’t do this. It’s crucial for making sure your children are looked after by someone you trust.

Accounting for property not transferred to the trust:

Sometimes, we forget to add some assets to our living trust. These assets might not be shared as we want after we’re gone. A will is important because it can handle any property not in the trust.

It’s smart to have both a living trust and a will. A living trust deals with your money and property. Your will makes sure your personal choices are carried out too, like who should raise your kids.

If anything about estate planning confuses you, talk to a lawyer. A lawyer who knows about trusts and wills can help. They’ll make sure what you write down is clear and protects your stuff.

guardian for minor children

Can a Living Trust Reduce Estate Tax in Florida?

Usually, a living trust doesn’t lower the estate tax in Florida directly. Estate tax applies to very high-value estates. But, for those estates, there are some trust options. These trusts can help decrease or even avoid estate taxes.

The AB trust is one of these options. It’s also called a bypass trust or credit shelter trust. It uses both spouses’ estate tax exemptions, essentially letting more assets go to beneficiaries free of tax. This trust is split into two: the A trust and the B trust. The surviving spouse can use the estate tax exemption for each part.

The A trust holds assets for the surviving spouse. It’s revocable and the spouse can use these assets during their life. The B trust contains assets up to the estate tax exemption. These assets go to named beneficiaries without estate tax when the surviving spouse dies.

A couple can potentially lower or avoid estate tax in Florida with an AB trust. They do this by fully using their estate tax exemptions. But, estate tax laws are complicated and can change. Speaking with an attorney or tax professional who knows estate planning is essential. They can guide you with the best strategies for your situation.

The Benefits of an AB Trust:

  • Maximizes estate tax exemptions
  • Preserves assets for future generations
  • Provides financial security for the surviving spouse
  • Offers potential asset protection
  • Allows for control and distribution of assets according to the grantor’s wishes

How Do I Make a Living Trust in Florida?

Making a living trust in Florida involves several key steps. First, choose between an individual trust or a shared trust. An individual trust is for one person to create. A shared trust is when multiple people, like partners or spouses, combine their assets.

Next, you have to pick which assets go into the trust. This might be real estate, bank accounts, investments, or other valuable items. These will later go to your chosen beneficiaries.

Another important step is selecting a successor trustee. This person will handle the trust and give assets to your beneficiaries after you die. Make sure this person can be trusted and is capable of the job.

Then, move on to creating the trust document. You can use an attorney who’s an expert in trust law. Or, use online tools made for creating living trusts by yourself.

After you’ve prepared the document, you must sign it in front of a notary public. This makes the document legally valid. Also, remember to update any property titles to show they’re in the trust.

Here’s an example of a trust structure:

Section Content
Trust Name Florida Living Trust for [Your Full Name]
Trustee [Your Full Name]
Successor Trustee [Name of Successor Trustee]
Beneficiaries [List of Beneficiaries]
Assets [List of Assets]

Creating a living trust is a significant step. Understanding the process is key. Seek help if needed. With proper planning, your trust can safeguard your assets and smoothly pass them to your family.

Understanding Living Trust: A Primer

A living trust is important in planning for the future. It lets someone keep control over their belongings even after they die. This trust document ensures that the handover to loved ones is easy and without hassle. It also has rules for how everything is passed on. The person setting up the trust picks someone to look after it. This person is called a trustee, and they make sure the belongings go to the right people.

To set up the trust, the person puts their assets into it. This includes their home, things they own, money, and any business they have. By doing this, they make sure everything follows the trust’s rules. This avoids a long court process called probate. Skipping probate means it’s faster and cheaper for loved ones to get what’s left to them.

“A living trust allows the grantor to maintain control over their assets even after death, ensuring a smooth distribution to beneficiaries.”

A living trust keeps things private, unlike wills that everyone can see. It’s a private way to share belongings. This is great for anyone who wants to keep their affairs private or has complicated wishes.

Making a living trust should be done with a lawyer who knows about estate planning laws. They can guide you. With their help, you can make a trust that meets your needs. It keeps your assets safe for the future.

Understanding Living Trust in Florida

Living Trust Purpose

The main goal of a living trust is to easily give belongings to those you care about. It sets out how your stuff should be taken care of and shared when you are gone. This gives you peace of mind and helps make sure your plan is followed well.

Trust Document and Trust Agreement

The trust document is a serious paper that lays down the rules for the trust. It says what the trustee must do, who gets what, and how things are shared. This document is key to making sure your wishes are carried out as you wanted.


The trustee is very important. They take care of the trust’s belongings. They make sure everything is looked after and passed on like you said. A trustee always works with the beneficiaries’ best interests in mind. They take actions that fit with your plans.

Funding the Trust

Putting things into the trust is called funding it. This means your belongings move from your name into the trust. Houses, personal items, money, and business shares are common things put in. Doing this helps protect your stuff and makes it easy for loved ones to get them.

Living Trust Purpose Trust Document Trustee Funding the Trust
Ensures a seamless transfer of assets to beneficiaries Legally binding document that outlines the rules and guidelines Responsible for managing the trust property Process of transferring assets into the trust’s name
Maintains control over assets even after death Specifies the responsibilities of the trustee Acts as a fiduciary for the beneficiaries Preserves assets and avoids probate
Safeguards assets and ensures effective estate planning Designates the beneficiaries Makes decisions in accordance with the grantor’s wishes Includes real estate, personal property, financial accounts, and business interests

Succession Planning for a Living Trust

When you create a living trust, think about succession planning. It’s about choosing a successor trustee. This person will manage the trust if the original trustee can’t or has passed away.

The successor trustee is key to making sure the trust runs as the grantor wanted. They look after the trust’s assets, give them to the beneficiaries as the trust says, and handle any legal or money issues.

Having a named successor trustee is crucial. It keeps the trust running smoothly if the first one can’t do it. Plus, it avoids the need for probate court, which can take a lot of time and money.

Choose a successor trustee who is honest, reliable, and suited for the job. They must understand what the person who made the trust wanted and be ready to carry it out. It’s vital to talk to them about what’s expected. This makes sure they’re okay with taking on the role.

This trustee should also know the terms of the trust well. They might need help from a lawyer or another expert. This is to make sure they do their job correctly and follow the law.

In short, picking a successor trustee is crucial in a living trust. It makes sure the trust is managed well and the grantor’s wishes are met without probate. Choose someone carefully. Make sure they understand the trust and what they have to do.

Benefits of Succession Planning for a Living Trust
Ensures proper management of the trust
Facilitates the fulfillment of the grantor’s wishes
Avoids the need for probate court proceedings
Provides continuity in trust administration
Maintains privacy and confidentiality

Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts: Choosing What’s Best for You

It’s important to choose between a revocable and an irrevocable trust when thinking about a living trust. Revocable living trusts let you change things and keep control while you are alive. But, they don’t protect your assets well or offer big tax benefits like irrevocable trusts do.

Irrevocable living trusts give up ownership and control for better asset protection and possible tax perks. This can be really good if you want to shield your assets from debts or legal claims.

Picking the right trust type depends on what matters most to you. Some might choose a revocable trust for control and freedom. Others might select an irrevocable trust for better asset protection and tax advantages.

Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust allows changes or cancellations by the grantor any time. This is good for those who expect their money or life situation to change.

Here are the important things to know about a revocable living trust:

  • You can change or end the trust
  • There might be tax benefits while you are alive
  • It offers only a little protection for assets
  • It doesn’t safeguard you from debts

Irrevocable Living Trust

An irrevocable living trust can’t be altered or canceled after it’s set up. It gives more protection for your assets and could offer good tax savings, attractive for those with a lot to protect or specific plans for their estate.

Here’s what you need to know about an irrevocable living trust:

  • The grantor no longer owns the assets
  • It provides better safety from debts and legal actions
  • There might be tax benefits for planning your estate
  • You have less control and flexibility

Talking to a trust expert or a lawyer is key to selecting the best trust for you. They can give you advice on the legal and money matters, helping you choose wisely.

Revocable Trust Irrevocable Trust
Offers flexibility and control Provides greater asset protection
Can be modified or revoked Cannot be changed or revoked
May have tax advantages during the grantor’s lifetime Potential tax benefits for estate planning
Asset protection is limited Stronger protection from creditors and legal liabilities

Pros and Cons of Establishing a Living Trust

There are both good and bad points in setting up a living trust. It’s important to look at these before you decide. By knowing what’s good and what’s not, you can pick what’s best for your estate plan. Now, let’s dive into the upsides and downsides of a living trust.

Pros of Establishing a Living Trust

  1. Probate Avoidance: A big pro is not going through probate. Unlike with a will, assets held in a trust go straight to your chosen ones. This skips the long and expensive probate phase, saving your family time and money after you’re gone.
  2. Privacy: Your matters stay private with a trust. Wills are public during probate, but a living trust keeps your asset distribution behind closed doors. If you’d rather your financial info be private, a trust could be a good choice.
  3. Asset Protection: Trusts can shield your assets from certain claims. You can set rules in your trust to protect your assets from debts or lawsuits against your heirs. This offers your family a layer of financial security.
  4. Control Over Assets: You keep control as long as you’re alive. You’re the boss, able to tweak the trust, put in or pull out assets, and be the decision-maker. This is great for those wanting to stay in the driver’s seat of their estate.

Cons of Establishing a Living Trust

  1. Complexity: Setting up a trust is more involved than a will. It means creating a detailed trust document, moving assets, and managing the trust properly. This can need help from a legal expert or an estate planner.
  2. Higher Costs: Trusts are pricier to establish than wills. This includes lawyer fees, creating documents, and maybe trustee payments. Yet, costs can vary depending on how complex your estate is and the help you need.
  3. Ongoing Maintenance: Trusts need more upkeep than wills. You have to keep it updated, check beneficiary picks, and make sure it follows laws. This continual work can be a bit of a time and effort tug on your estate planning.

Think about these ups and downs carefully in relation to your own needs. Talking to a lawyer or an estate planning pro is smart. They can help you make a fully informed choice for your estate.

Step-by-Step Guide to Forming Your Living Trust

Creating a living trust in Florida is crucial for protecting your assets. I’ll show you how to make your own living trust step by step.

1. Compile an Asset List

Start by listing all your assets in detail. This will include things like houses, bank accounts, investments, and more.

2. Choose the Type of Trust

Decide if you want an individual or shared trust. An individual trust works for those who prefer keeping their assets apart. A shared trust joins assets for couples.

3. Select a Trustee

It’s vital to choose who will handle your trust. Your trustee can be yourself, a family member, a friend, or a professional.

4. Designate Beneficiaries

Choose who will inherit your assets. You should name them in the trust along with their relationships to you.

5. Draft the Trust Agreement

Work with a lawyer to create a trust agreement. This paper will define how your trust will work, including who gets what.

6. Sign the Trust Document

After creating the agreement, sign it with two witnesses and a notary public. This makes your trust legally sound.

7. Understand the Financial Implications

Think about the costs and taxes of your trust. Talking with a financial expert or an estate planner can help you understand the money side.

With this guide, you’re set to form your living trust in Florida. This way, you can protect and manage your assets as you wish.


Setting up a living trust in Florida has clear benefits. It helps smoothly pass on your assets to loved ones and avoids probate. You’ll also keep control of your assets during your life.

Talking with an estate planning expert is important. They can customize the living trust to suit your needs. This makes sure your trust is solid and that your wants are met.

It’s vital to act now to protect your family’s future. A well-planned living trust means your belongings will go where you want them to. Start estate planning in Florida today and benefit from having a living trust.


What is a living trust?

A living trust is created during your lifetime to transfer your assets to others after your death. This saves your loved ones time and money by avoiding probate.

Do I need a living trust in Florida?

In Florida, a living trust can help avoid the lengthy probate process. But whether you need one depends on your estate planning goals and situation.

Do I still need a will if I make a living trust?

Yes, having a will is still important even with a living trust. It lets you name guardians for children and manage any uncovered assets.

Can a living trust reduce estate tax in Florida?

In Florida, a living trust doesn’t usually cut estate taxes. But certain trust types can reduce or remove these taxes for large estates. Talking to a legal or tax professional is wise.

How do I make a living trust in Florida?

To create a living trust in Florida, you’ll pick between individual or shared. Then choose assets, a trustee, and beneficiaries. After deciding, draft and sign the trust document with a notary.

What is a trust agreement?

A trust agreement lays out how a living trust is to be managed and who will receive what. It is a formal document.

What is a successor trustee?

The successor trustee steps in if the original can’t serve. They are in charge of managing and distributing trust assets, ensuring the trust’s terms are met.

Should I choose a revocable or irrevocable trust?

The trust type depends on your need for flexibility and asset protection. Revocable trusts allow you to change terms, while irrevocable trusts can keep assets safe.

What are the pros and cons of establishing a living trust?

Living trusts pros include skipping probate, keeping your finances private, and managing how assets are passed. Yet, they require more setup work, cost more upfront, and need ongoing upkeep.

What are the steps to form a living trust in Florida?

To set up a living trust in Florida, you’ll start by listing your assets. Then pick a trustee, beneficiaries, and draft the trust agreement. Finally, sign it with witnesses and a notary.

What are the advantages of a living trust in estate planning?

A living trust streamlines asset transfer, avoids probate, and lets you control your assets throughout life. Talking to an expert can help you customize your trust.