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Do I need a will or living trust?

None of us want to consider the possibility of our eventual death, but setting up a thorough estate plan is vital to ensuring your legacy continues.  If you are of retirement age, you are likely familiar with some options for estate planning in Florida.  Take a look at some essential facts about wills and trusts to select the estate planning option that is best for you.  

What is a Will?

A will is a written document that dictates how you wish your property to be distributed upon your death.  To be valid in Florida, a will must be signed and witnessed, among other factors.  You can use your will to appoint a guardian for your minor children and you are permitted to amend or revoke your will at any time.  

What is a Living Trust?

A living trust is a legal document that places your assets in a separate entity that can be used for your benefit during your lifetime, then distributed to named beneficiaries upon your death.  A living trust can be amended, and it will allow your assets to be distributed without the need for probate.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Wills and Trusts

Some factors to consider in deciding whether you should create a will or a trust include:

Avoiding Probate

Only a trust will allow your large estate to be distributed without the need for probate.  Probate can be costly and lengthy for your heirs.  If your estate is smaller, however, it may not be subject to probate or could go through a summary administration.  Your estate planning attorney can review your assets to determine whether creating a trust to avoid probate would benefit you.

Governing the Distribution of Assets

In a will, you will have control over who receives your assets, but that is where your control ends.  With a trust, on the other hand, you can designate what your assets can be used for, put age limits on when your children can receive assets, and much more.  A trust provides for greater control of your assets after your death.


A trust will cost you more to set up initially, but could yield your heirs greater savings in the long run.  You will want to consider the size of your estate and whether the advantages of a trust are worth the cost.