Revocable Living Trusts in Florida

A revocable living trust is one of the most powerful and flexible tools in estate planning. Unlike wills, living trusts can help you plan for your own future and the potential for incapacitation while protecting the financial future of your loved ones. Here is what you should know about revocable living trusts in Florida.

What is a Revocable Trust?

A revocable trust—also known as a living trust—is a type of trust that allows the terms to be changed during your lifetime. At death, the trust becomes irrevocable, and the terms cannot be changed. 

A living trust is a separate legal entity that allows you to maintain ownership and control of your assets. When assets are placed in a trust, they are legally titled to the trust which is then under your name. During your life, you can serve as the trustee to administer the trust with control over all assets in the trust. 

Upon death, a successor will be responsible for paying taxes and claims, then distributing assets in the trust according to your trust agreement. The assets in a trust are transferred directly to beneficiaries and bypass the probate process.

What are the Advantages of Creating a Living Trust?

A revocable living trust may be created for many reasons. You may want to help heirs avoid the cost and time of probate, or perhaps avoid guardianship court for children or yourself if incapacitated. A living trust can accomplish many objectives with several advantages to consider. 

Here are some of the benefits of creating a revocable trust in Florida: 

  • Avoid probate. Assets transferred to a living trust do not go through probate and instead pass directly to beneficiaries.
  • Avoid guardianship if you are incapacitated. In the event something happens to you, you can avoid the court appointing someone to manage your finances with a living trust. The successor trustee you designate will instead be charged with administering trust assets according to your provisions.
  • Avoid guardianship if a child receives an inheritance. Florida requires a guardian to be appointed to manage a child’s inheritance that exceeds $15,000, even when the minor’s parent is alive. A living trust can bypass this If you wish to leave a significant inheritance to a child.
  • Asset protection for beneficiaries. At death, a living trust becomes irrevocable and, when created properly, offers asset protection. If the successor trustee has discretion over distributions, your beneficiary’s creditors cannot force a distribution.
  • Control your assets after death. A living trust is a flexible solution. Trust assets can be immediately distributed to beneficiaries at death, or the successor trustee can make periodic distributions of income or assets according to the trust provisions.
  • Protect someone with special needs or the recipient of government benefits. When someone who receives government benefits like Medicaid or someone with special needs receives an inheritance, it can count against them to qualify for many government programs. A special needs trust can be created to supplement government benefits and provide for the long-term care and quality of life of the beneficiary.


Revocable trusts are not simply a tool for wealthy individuals. People who are married, divorced, remarried, or widowed can benefit from a trust to protect assets and ensure their chosen beneficiaries receive an inheritance. Avoiding probate can save heirs great expense, stress, and time and give them access to their inheritance sooner. The trust can also be beneficial for individuals who simply want the right to choose who makes important decisions if they become incapacitated.

What Is the Difference Between a Will and a Revocable Living Trust?

A will and a living trust are both important estate planning documents that allow you to decide what happens to your assets and plan for the future of your loved ones. However, one does not replace the other. 

A will is a legal document that expresses your wishes including naming guardians for minor children and who you want to inherit your assets. Wills must go through probate—unlike living wills, which allow assets to be distributed without court supervision. 

The following are some important considerations: 

  • Only a living trust avoids probate.
  • A will becomes public record, unlike a living trust.
  • A will can be useful for naming guardians for minor children.
  • A will can be used to make wishes known regarding memorial or funeral plans.
  • A will can be challenged in court; a living trust cannot.

A living trust is more complex to set up and best done with a Florida estate planning lawyer. Fortunately, Florida Probate Law Firm can help make living trusts simple to create and validate.

What Assets Can Be Placed in a Living Trust?

Most assets in your name can be placed in a revocable living trust in Florida. However, some assets do not need to be placed in a trust if your goal is to avoid probate. Some assets also require special consideration before placing in a trust. 

The following assets can already bypass probate: 

  • Retirement accounts with a named beneficiary
  • Life insurance proceeds
  • Bank accounts that are payable-on-death (POD)
  • Vehicles and boats that are transfer-on-death
  • Jointly owned assets titled to transfer to the surviving owner
  • Certain household goods and other items

However, even if assets can pass directly to beneficiaries and skip the probate process, that does not mean there are not benefits to placing them in a living trust. For instance, a trust can be set up to give beneficiaries who are not good at managing money regular distributions instead of a lump sum. A living trust can also set up provisions if a beneficiary is a minor to bypass the need for a court-appointed guardian. 

An Experienced Florida Living Trust Attorney Can Help

It is important to consult with a Florida living trust attorney to help you decide which assets should be placed in a revocable trust. Special consideration should be given to your Florida homestead, for example. It must be titled correctly with special language to preserve your homestead tax exemption. If the home is passed to a child before they turn 18, it can instead skip your trust provisions and pass based on the Florida Homestead Statute. 

Are you considering creating a living trust in Florida to plan for your own future and protect your loved ones? Contact the Florida Probate Law Firm, PLLC today for a free consultation with a Florida living trust lawyer to discuss your needs.

We have been helping Florida residents and their families with probate and estate planning for more than 30 years.