What Types of Assets Can I Place in a Florida Trust?
In estate planning, we often assist clients with creating revocable trusts. This is a legal device that allows you to retain control over your assets during your lifetime. But after you die, the assets remain in trust under the control of a successor trustee. Trust assets do not pass as part of your probate estate–i.e., it is not subject to the terms of your will–which in many cases can greatly simplify the process of distributing those assets to your chosen beneficiaries.
A question we often get is, “What assets should I put into my trust?” The answer is just about any asset can be put into a revocable trust. And while every person’s financial situation is different, here is an overview of some of the more common types of assets people put into their trusts.
If you are like most Florida residents, the most valuable thing you own is your house. Or perhaps you own more than one residence, including a house or investment property in another state. Whatever real estate you own, placing it all into a trust can greatly simplify things. This is because when real estate is subject to probate, it must be probated in the state where it is physically located. So if you own two houses in two different states, that means two separate probate proceedings. In contrast, if both houses are in your trust, there is no need for probate in either state.
Keep in mind, you can transfer your house into a trust even if there is a mortgage on the property. The mortgage essentially “follows” your property into the trust. It is a good idea to inform your mortgage lender about the transfer, however, just to avoid any potential misunderstandings later.
If you own any type of securities–stocks, bonds, mutual funds, et cetera–you can re-register your account in the name of your trust. As trustee you can then continue to buy and sell securities in the name of the trust. And through the trust you can leave instructions for your successor trustee on how to distribute any securities after you die.
If you own or co-own your own business, it often makes sense to place ownership of the business entity into a trust. Again, the main reason for this is to avoid probate. Let’s say you own a small business. If it passes under your will, the executor of your estate will be responsible for managing the business under the supervision of a probate judge until your estate is closed. Such disruption is often costly for a business. By placing ownership in a trust, however, you can help ensure a smoother transition.
Speak with a Florida Trust Lawyer Today
Of course, just because you can place these assets into a trust does not mean it always makes legal or financial sense to do so. An experienced Fort Myers estate planning attorney can help you review your current situation and decide whether or not a trust makes sense. Contact the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 today to schedule an initial estate planning consultation.