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Placing property in a revocable trust

May 25, 2018
By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

I am a widow here in Cape Coral with only one son. Generally, we have gotten along well, but we have occasionally had disagreements about how he spends money. I want him to have my home (which is fully paid for) when I am gone, but I am not sure if he can handle the responsibility, or that amount of money if he sold it. Do I have any options?

- Dolores C.

Dear Dolores:

This is a question that comes up often. Many clients want their children or other beneficiaries to receive the benefit of their estate, but there are concerns for a variety of reasons of giving them cash or property outright. If you read my column often, you know that an enhanced life estate deed is a great way to convey real estate to your heirs or other beneficiaries without probate. However, the drawback is that the property passes to them with no restrictions or instructions. To address your situation, placing your property in a revocable trust is an option. Once formed, you would deed your property into the trust (which still retains homestead protections), providing you continued control of the property, including the right to sell or mortgage. You would have the trust written in a way to address what would occur at your death. In this case, you would likely name a third party trustee to manage the assets (the house), and provide that your son could live there, or otherwise receive benefits from ownership like rents. In the alternative, the trust could be drafted to provide that it could be sold, but that the funds would be held by the trustee, and would be distributed to your son based on your wishes. He could receive monthly payments, payments for specific items (like food and shelter), or whatever items you specify. Ultimately, you could provide he receive the remainder of the funds at a certain age, and provide a charity, church or other beneficiary receive the remaining funds after his passing.

Trusts require the experience of an attorney to properly prepare, so I urge you to seek legal counsel before proceeding. In your situation, you have total control of what happens both during your life and after your passing with regard to your assets.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for 28 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continued his service to the community through his chairmanship of the Harney Point Kiwanis Club KidsFest from 2011-2015, which provides a free day of fun and learning to thousands of Cape Coral families, and funds numerous scholarships. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for 14 years, and they have four children together. Recently, he earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is also a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.



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