Putting your home in a Trust in Florida can yield a variety of benefits, from minimizing estate taxes to avoiding probate.
Trusts can seem confusing or reserved for the super-rich, but they’re accessible for all types of families and easier to set up than imagined. However, you should always create trusts and make major ownership decisions with the support of an experienced Florida estate planning attorney.
What Is a Trust?
Here’s a quick 101 on Trusts. A trust is a legal structure that can hold and own assets, real estate, possessions and money.
Trust creators (trustors) can select someone (a trustee) to manage the trust in the best interests of the beneficiaries (the people selected to inherit the trust’s assets).
Trusts can have terms and instructions for asset inheritance and distribution, such as milestones and requirements. This provides for further control and flexibility than with wills.
Read Related: Should You Put Your House in a Trust?
Steps to Putting Your Home in a Trust in Florida
Here are the key steps you need to take to put your home in a trust in Florida.
1. Choose What Type of Trust You Want
The first step in how to put your home in a trust in Florida is to create one.
To do so, you’ll first need to choose which type of trust is optimal for you and your family. There are two types commonly used for home, Revocable Trusts and Irrevocable Trusts.
- Revocable Trusts, also referred to as living trusts, are created while you’re alive.
- You can modify their conditions and contents and revoke them at any moment in your life.
- Revocable living trusts allow for extra control and freedom over asset distribution. So if you place your house in it, you can change the terms of who will receive it in the future or even remove it entirely.
- Once you pass away, revocable trusts become irrevocable.
- Irrevocable Trusts cannot be modified or revoked once created.
- Despite having a lack of modification freedom, you can considerably improve your Medicaid eligibility or other income-related qualifications by using them.
- Irrevocable trust assets are protected from creditors and the Medicaid estate recovery program.
- They require their own tax returns to be filed by the trustee.
2. Contact an Estate Planning Attorney
Always contact a Florida estate planning lawyer for expert guidance and opinions when making major decisions such as this. Before speaking to an attorney, prepare answers to the following considerations:
- What are your Estate Planning goals?
- Do you need to qualify for Medicaid or other income-related qualifications?
- Do you need to put your home in a trust for asset protection?
- Would you like to be able to modify the trust during your lifetime?
Our Florida estate planning and Elder Law attorneys welcome you to make a free consultation today, before helping you set up your trust.
3. Decide Upon Beneficiaries and Trustees
This is perhaps the most important step in putting a home in a trust in Florida. You must decide who you want to receive it (or its funds if sold) and who will be the Trustee when you pass away,
The Trustee is the person responsible for managing the trust in the best interests of the beneficiaries.
Trustees should be close friends or family members who you can trust, know to be responsible, and have a cool head. Once you pass away, it’ll be them alternatively, you can also choose an unbiased third-party trustee such as a bank or attorney.
You should sit down and have a serious conversation with the potential trustee(s) before creating the trust document. Finally, consider successor trustees too. Successor trustees are individuals that will become trustees after the first-choice individual passes away or gives up their duties.
4. Decide Upon The Terms of the Trust
Next, you’ll need to decide the terms and instructions for the trust. Terms and instructions can be anything you desire, but often include things such as “My son gains ownership of the house upon his 25th birthday”, or “The house should be sold when my children have all acquired their own property”.
You can also decide if you want to put other assets in the trust.
5. Create the Trust Document
Next comes the formalities of creating the trust document. Here, you’ll need to detail your terms and instructions in the correct format. It’s strongly recommended that you ask a Florida trust lawyer to assist you with this.
The language and wording should not leave any chances for misinterpretation. Doing so could potentially leave your wishes to be ignored or misunderstood. It could also lead to significant stress and legal fights for your family in the future.
You also need to ensure every legal requirement is met, as you risk voiding the document otherwise.
6. Prepare a New Property Deed
You will now need to get an updated property deed. You can copy your existing one, but you must update it by making the trust the new property owner. You should ask your Estate planning lawyer for assistance.
7. Get The New Property Deed Notarized
The deed must then be authenticated, by having it signed in front of a notary public. In Florida, a notary public is a public officer appointed by the governor of the state to authorize the signing of documents.
8. File The Deed
You will then need to file the deed with the county clerk’s office, which holds local property records in your local area.
Hire an Estate Planning Attorney for Trusts in St Petersburg, FL
If you need support with how to put your home in a Trust in Florida, then our Florida estate planning attorneys can help. From advising you to creating the trust documents, we’ll make the process smooth and optimized.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning experienced estate planning attorneys, they can help you create a will or trust.