Trusts Attorneys in the Tampa Area

When people think about estate planning, they usually only think about a will. However, trusts can be just as important. A trust can be an extremely useful estate planning tool, but you need to work with a qualified and experienced trust attorney to ensure your estate planning is done properly.

What Is a Trust?

A trust describes the legal responsibility of one party to keep your property and assets for a future beneficiary. When you create a trust with the help of an attorney, you (the “Settlor”) designate someone (the “Trustee”) to hold and manage your property (the “res” or “Corpus”) until a specified time when someone else (the beneficiary, who “benefits” from the trust) is ready to take the assets.

The trustee is legally responsible for management, placement, and oversight of the property that is put into the trust. The trust documents will include a variety of details, including when the trustee is legally allowed or required to release the property to the beneficiary.

A beneficiary for a trust can be anyone but is often a child or younger heir of some kind or even yourself. In the former case, money, property, or other assets are placed in a trust with the condition that the asset(s) is not released until the beneficiary is at least 18 years of age or even older, such as 25 or even 30. In the latter case, you name yourself as the trustee and as the lifetime beneficiary. Your desired heirs become the successor beneficiaries and have a future interest in the trust which becomes a present interest upon your passing.

While beneficiaries are often younger, you can name anyone as a beneficiary. A spouse, grandchildren, niece or nephew, parent, sibling, or even a close friend can be named a beneficiary on your trust.

There are numerous types of trusts: living trusts, charitable trusts, land trusts, and others. Each type has its own uses and benefits, and unique, complex details. Therefore, it’s best to work with a qualified attorney.

Do I Need to Create a Trust?

It depends. Whether a trust is a good fit for you depends on your situation, age, wealth, the type of assets you own, and your goals. The beneficiaries you name in your trust can receive the trust property almost immediately in the event of your death, or the distribution can be delayed. A will must go through probate court, which can be a lengthy process that includes the courts overseeing the transfer of your assets to your beneficiaries. Property held in a trust does not.

Trust vs. Wills: Important Differences

While there are similarities, trusts and wills are different in three important ways:

  1. When it becomes effective: A will only goes into effect after you pass away, while a trust is flexible. It can become effective at a specified time, regardless of whether you are living or not.
  2. Administration: In essence, wills consist of two general categories of parties: the person or people giving their property upon their death and the people receiving the assets. Trusts, however, have three categories of parties: the people giving the assets, the people receiving the assets (the beneficiary), and the person overseeing the trust (the trustee) who acts, essentially, as a manager or middleman.
  3. Probate: One of the biggest advantages of trusts is that there is typically no need for a probate process. Probate is a court-administered process for distributing assets after a person’s death. It’s time-consuming, complex, possibly contentious, and complicated.

Let an Experienced, Professional Attorney Create Your Trust

If you need help creating a trust for your assets, contact the experienced attorneys at the Messina Law Group. Thinking about your future is difficult, emotional, and complicated, which is why you need a reliable and dedicated trust lawyer in the Tampa area.