In Florida estate planning, a commonly used instrument is a "Living Trust" (also called a "Revocable Trust" or a "Revocable Living Trust"). In this blog, we will simply call it a "Trust." There are multiple benefits accomplished by establishing a Trust, including avoiding probate and controlling distribution--particularly to minors or financially irresponsible adult beneficiaries.
Not uncommonly, we have prospective clients come into the office after a loved one has died. Their request is often simple...for example:"I need a deed to put Mom's house into my name. Her Will says I'm supposed to get it. Can you prepare that deed for me?" Unfortunately, it's not that simple. In most instances, there will need to be a court order to transfer the property. And in Florida, that means opening a probate.
When a person establishes a Living or Revocable Trust, it is necessary to transfer certain assets into the Trust. Estate attorneys often call this "funding the Trust." Assets such as real estate, brokerage accounts, stocks, etc. can be transferred into the name of the Trust. When it comes to funding, clients often ask, should I title my vehicle(s) in the Trust?
When clients execute a Living or Revocable Trust, one of the first things about which their estate attorney should advise them is that their assets should be transferred into their Trust. This process is often called "funding" the Trust. Having a Trust without funding it is like having a vehicle with no gasoline...it won't get you very far!
A frequently employed estate planning instrument is the Living Trust or Revocable Trust. Such a Trust can minimize or avoid probate altogether. In order to be effective, the Trust should be funded, i.e. assets should be transferred into it.