No two people in Florida are alike, so there cannot be any type of one-size-fits-all approach to estate planning. What works for one person might not be the best fit for another. This is why it is important for individuals to consider whether wills or trusts best suit their estate planning needs. Wills might be more well-known, but trusts also offer a lot of benefits.

Common perception of trusts is often that they are only for the extremely wealthy or those who are trying to dodge paying taxes. Both of these are misconceptions, and people of all income backgrounds might find that a revocable trust can meet their needs. Simply put, a revocable trust is a legal document that acts as a sort of fictitious person. A person can place his or her assets into the trust, and then a trustee can manage the property. It can be changed or even revoked during the creator’s lifetime.

Upon the creator’s death, the successor trustee would simply follow the instructions laid out in the trust. This is a simple and cost-effective method for distributing assets and paying necessary taxes. In contrast, wills must go through probate, a process that validates the will and can take as long as six months to complete. There are also legal fees associated with probate, and the lengthy process of administering the estate can extend the grieving process for some families.

Both wills and trusts take about the same amount of time, effort and money to set up. While they can both serve the same purpose of distributing assets upon a person’s death, they also have different benefits and drawbacks. Florida residents who are ready to start estate planning but are not sure which documents best suit their needs should consider speaking with an attorney who is well-versed in this topic.