VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Understanding how a trust works

When a Florida resident creates a trust, there are three parties that are central to the document. The first party is the person who creates the trust who is referred to as the grantor. This person names a trustee to carry out provisions of the trust, and in some cases, the grantor can act as the trustee. Beneficiaries are the third party to a trust, and they are the people or entities who receive distributions from the trust.

In some cases, there may be more than one beneficiary. Typically, the grantor names a primary beneficiary such as a spouse or another close family member. It is possible that there is more than one primary beneficiary. A secondary beneficiary would receive property from a trust if the primary beneficiary is already deceased or otherwise unable to receive the property. It may also be a good idea to name a trust itself as a secondary beneficiary to certain assets

Changing beneficiaries is easier if the trust is a revocable living trust. With an irrevocable trust, it may be necessary to get the approval of all beneficiaries plus the trustee before making changes. Absent that, it may be necessary to get a court order to make any changes to the document.

The use of a trust may be part of a comprehensive estate planning strategy. In addition to preserving assets for future generations, it may allow for greater tax efficiency. It may also allow for a larger portion of an estate to avoid going through probate. This may be ideal for those who want to preserve their privacy or want to settle the estate in a timely manner. Having the input of an experienced attorney can be advisable.

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