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A standalone will plus a testamentary trust can simplify probate

Sometimes a person creates a pour-over will that is supposed to place their remaining assets in a revocable trust, they sometimes fail to first fund that trust. However, merely having such a trust can simplify the probate process. This is because the executor of the person’s estate, as the trustee, may be able to transfer all of the person’s assets that are subject to the probate process to him or herself and then administer the estate within the trust, making it a private process, unlike probate.

For example, after filing the inventory of all the person’s assets, the accounting the executor needs to provide to the probate court is simplified. The trustee only needs to provide the court with a single receipt and zero disbursements. This is due to the fact that it was the trustee, rather than the executor, that settled the liabilities of the person’s estate. The trustee is then the only beneficiary with regards to the person’s standalone will. Of course, the trust itself still needs to be administered. Liabilities must be settled, and net assets must be distributed to the real trust beneficiaries.

In the end, for those who do not execute a revocable trust, a standalone will in combination with a testamentary trust can simplify the probate process. The will leaves all the deceased’s assets to the trust and one person is assigned the role both of executor of the estate and trustee. The will and trust than direct the trustee to settle all the liabilities of the deceased individual’s estate. When the testator passes away, the executor can make a single distribution of all trust assets to him or herself as trustee. Then the affairs of the estate are taken care of within the trust itself. The testamentary trust names the desired beneficiaries. Once liabilities are settled and distributions are made within the trust, the trust ends.

This is only a brief overview of how a standalone will in combination with a testamentary trust can make up part of a well-rounded estate plan. Florida residents who have more questions about how this process works, and whether it is a sound choice for them may want to contact an attorney.

Source: WealthManagement.com, “Using a Testamentary Trust to Simplify Probate,” Walton Davis, June 6, 2017

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