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Land trusts can help you keep your home, avoid probate

For most people in Florida, their homes are one of the most valuable things they own. It could also be one of the largest assets passed along in the owner's estate.

If the house goes through probate, it could trigger tax consequences that the testator would rather not occur. One option to avoid this is to create a land trust.

A land trust works by putting a piece of real estate in a trust for the benefit of the intended beneficiaries. Meanwhile, the testator continues to live in the house, and retains their homestead rights.

This often allows the house to pass to beneficiaries outside of probate when the testator passes away. During his or her life, it may also shield the house from creditor claims, depending on the circumstances.

Thus, a land trust allows testators to direct who will inherit their home, possibly avoid lengthy, expensive probate proceedings, and stay in the home the rest of their lives. This would be an attractive option for many people.

However, they are not for everybody. Every person's estate, family situation and wishes are unique. A variety of trusts and language in the will can work to distribute your assets the way you want, with as little expense and delay as possible.

Another consideration is how vulnerable your estate plan could be to challenges. Will contests can tear families apart, and possibly cause your wishes not to be met. An estate planning attorney can help make your plan as bulletproof as possible.

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