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Trusts may provide advantages wills don't have

The American Association of Retired Persons recommended in 1991 that families make use of trusts in place of wills for certain benefits. The benefits of trusts when it comes to Florida estate administration include disability planning, avoidance of probate, asset protection and inheritance earmarking. There are several different types of trusts, and they can be drafted to fit the specific circumstances of the client.

Wills do not include disability planning provisions because they are not effective until the person dies. With a living trust, though, the trust maker can name one or more trustees to manage his or her affairs in the event of disability or incapacitation. Trusts can help the parties involved manage their financial and medical affairs without the need of a guardianship proceeding.

Trusts, because they are legal entities, avoid the time, hassle and expense of probate. Legal battles over inheritances are less likely in cases where the estate includes trust instruments. During probate, the contents of wills become public, so anyone can inspect them. Trusts remain private.

Assets that are disposed of with a will are not protected from cost recovery by nursing homes. Trusts like the Medicaid Asset Protection Trust can operate to protect assets once the assets have been in the trust for a period of five years.

Inheritance trusts may protect assets from the consequences of a divorce by the trust maker's children. People in Florida who have questions about the operation of trusts might want to speak with a lawyer. A lawyer who practices estate administration and probate law may be able to help by designing an estate plan to distribute assets and provide for the event of disability. A lawyer might draft trusts, wills or other documents for the client or offer advice regarding structures that reduce the tax liability of heirs and the estate.

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