Does A Trust Need to Be Recorded, Filed or Registered in Florida?
One of the most common questions I get as a Weston estate planning attorney is, do I need to record my living trust? Some persons believe that a trust needs to be publicly recorded like a corporation or a deed. This is generally wrong; not only is recording not required or needed for most trusts, in most cases recording would negate one of the chief benefits of a trust: confidentiality. Let’s look at more specific questions.
Does a Living Revocable Trust Need To Be Recorded During the Life of the Trustmaker?
The short answer is no. One of the great benefits of a living trust in this era of Google – where is it difficult to keep anything private and out of the public domain – is that a living trust is confidential. It does not need to be recorded, filed, or registered except in certain circumstances I will discuss below. A living trust, properly drafted by an experienced Weston estate planning attorney is a powerful legal instrument to protect the privacy of your personal and financial information.
Does a Living Revocable Trust Need To Be Recorded Upon Death of the Trustmaker?
No. Unlike a Will that does need to be filed with the Clerk of Court within 10 days of death, a trust can allow you to keep personal financial information out of probate. Probate is the legal and very public process many families must go through upon death of a family member. A properly “funded” living trust does not need to go through a public probate process.
Note: Funding of your trust is transferring all major assets to your trust by changing title or beneficiary designation. For example, the primary beneficiary of your life insurance should usually be your living trust. We advise reviewing the funding of your trust at least every three years with a Weston Estate Planning Attorney.
What Are the Exceptions?
The most common exception are real estate truncations, and even in such cases, it is not necessary to record the entire trust. Sometimes in real estate transactions it is necessary to file a Certification of Trust, but this Certification will not contain any personal or financial information about the trust. A Certification of Trust may be required by a title company or bank to prove that the trust exists, the names of the trustees, and that the trustees have powers under the trust to transfer the real estate or secure financing. The Certification of Trust is often a short, 1-3 page document summarizing these key elements.
Take Away Point: Avoid Snooping, Meddling Persons
One of the great benefits of a living revocable trust is that it is private and confidential – it does not need to become a public record; it does not need to be recorded, registered or filed.
This is just one reason why a living trust has become the preferred planning legal instrument for most persons. The alternative, a Last Will and Testament, must be deposited with the court and usually must go through a public legal process called probate. Properly funded, a living trust will avoid probate and keep your personal and financial information off of public records and away from snooping persons that may wish to meddle in your affairs.