If the decedent had established what is commonly referred to as a “Revocable Trust” – for it to work properly, assets must be transferred into it. Important: Titles must be changed from an “individual” name to the name of the revocable living trust. Because the name is no longer on the titles, there is no reason for the Florida probate court to be involved if the Trustee becomes incapacitated or when the person dies. The estate assets in the decedent’s revocable trust are a part of his or her gross estate for the purposes of determining federal estate tax liability.
When a Revocable Trust is executed, the Trustee is usually the person who executed the trust. Married couples are often co-trustees, so that when one dies or becomes incapacitated, the surviving spouse can continue to handle their finances with no other actions or steps required. Many people choose to be their own trustee and continue to manage their affairs for as long as they are able. However, the Trustee, is ultimately responsible to the beneficiaries for prudent management of the trust assets, therefore they should also consult with an experienced estate planner and trust attorney.
The Settlor (also called the Grantor), of the trust could appoint another person or financial institution as the Trustee of his or her revocable trust. If you have been named as a current Trustee or Co-trustee, you may already be acting in that capacity and need to be aware of your duties and responsibilities as trustee of the estate.
The Trustee is always required to file a “Notice of Trust” with the clerk of the court in the county in which the decedent resided at the time of the decedent’s death. The purpose of the notice of trust is to make the decedent’s creditors aware of the existence of the trust and of their rights to enforce their claims against the trust assets.
All of the tasks which must be performed by a personal representative, in connection with the administration of a probate estate, must also be performed by the Trustee of a revocable trust – though the Trustee generally will not need to file the same documents with the clerk of the court. Furthermore, if a probate proceeding is not commenced, the assets comprising the decedent’s revocable trust are subject to a two-year creditor’s claim period, rather than the three-month non-claim period available to a personal representative.
For help or answers to estate related questions, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.
Click below for a Revocable versus Irrevocable Trust article.