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How do I establish a Living Trust in Florida?

A Living Trust is established by executing a formal written document which appoints a Trustee to take possession of assets transferred into the Trust and directs the Trustee how to administer or manage the assets in the Trust. The Living Trust allows the person setting up the Trust (usually called the "Grantor" or "Settlor") to designate themselves as the initial Trustee and then to designate a successor Trustee if the Grantor dies or becomes incapacitated. The Living Trust authorizes the Trustee to exercise certain specific powers in managing the Trust without having a probate court involved. The Living Trust also allows the Grantor to designate who will be the beneficiaries of the Trust and to specify how the beneficiaries will receive their distributions. Many people like the Living Trust as a means of making distributions into the future, in increments or over a period of time rather than all at once. This becomes very important when beneficiaries are minors or are not mature enough to receive an inheritance all at once. While there are some similarities between a Will and a Living Trust, the main difference is that with the Living Trust, assets or property are actually transferred to the Trust during the Grantor's lifetime whereas with the Will no transfer occurs until after death. As a result, with the Living Trust when the Grantor dies, the Grantor's property is already in the Trust and therefore is not subject to probate. Another attractive feature of the Living Trust is that it has great flexibility during the Grantor's lifetime. The Living Trust can be modified or amended by the Grantor at any time. The assets and property transferred into the Living Trust can also be added to, replaced and removed at will. This means that to the Grantor, he or she gains a great estate planning benefit from the Living Trust but does not lose use of his or her assets by transferring them into the Living Trust.

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