Wills and Trust

If you fail to make a Last Will and Testament, the State of Florida will decide how you assets are distributed. Under Florida law, if you die without a Will, your estate will be distributed to your next of kin in a very specific order which is determined by who survives you. So depending on your particular circumstances, your next of kin could be anyone from your spouse, to your third cousin, twice removed. If you do not have a next of kin or a Last Will and Testament, your estate will be taken by the state (the legal term is “escheat”). A Last Will and Testament directs the Court in re-titling property that is only in your name at your death, into the name of the person you want to receive it. Just as a Will directs your property after your death, a trust can be used to direct how your property is distributed either before or after you pass. If the Trust is included as part of your Last Will and Testament (called a “Testamentary Trust”), the actual trust is funded with assets you’re your estate after you have passed away and allows you to direct how it is used after you have died. This tool is often used to provide for grandchildren or charities. When you create a trust during your life time (called an Intervivos or Living Trust), you are creating a separate entity (similar to a corporation) that actually has legal title to your property, which you or someone of your choosing, can manage as the Trustee of the trust. This tool can be beneficial for everything from helping you qualify for government benefits to protecting funds to be used by loved ones after you have passed away.

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