Many Florida residents choose to set up trusts to handle the bulk of their estates. This can be the best solution for many people. One common reason many people give is the desire to avoid having their estates going through probate after they pass away, in order to get around the estate tax or complications distributing the assets to their intended beneficiaries.
However, trusts need to be funded to take effect, and even the most careful person might not be able to get all of their valuable assets into trusts before dying. If you receive a court judgment, income tax refund or other influx of cash late in life, it could be left outside of your estate plan, requiring your estate to go through probate anyway.
For this reason, even those reluctant to have a will should consider a pour-over will. This is a type of will that “catches” assets not placed in trust at the time of the decedent’s death, and “pours” them into a trust.
This does require entering into probate, but there are some advantages of doing so, beyond making sure that these late-arriving assets are disposed of. For example, probate can help clear title on pieces of real estate, allowing that property to be passed on in the way the decedent intended. Also, if any creditors claim the decedent owed them money, those claims can be settled in probate.
Finally, as we mentioned above, the estate may receive a judgment or settlement, if the decedent was killed in an accident and another party was responsible.
For these and other reasons, a combination of a will and trusts may be the best solution, but a conversation with your estate planning attorney will help you determine what will work for you.