If you are a Florida resident, having a living trust as the cornerstone of your estate plan can offer many benefits. Among them are probate avoidance, privacy, possible tax advantages, and the ability to set conditions on your heirs’ inheritances.
Once you have signed your living trust, you must transfer your assets into the trust. (Keep in mind that certain assets – retirement accounts, for example – should not be transferred into your living trust.) Transferring title is a relatively simple process: You simply contact your financial institutions and request that your assets be retitled from “Your Name” to “The Your Name Living Trust.”
If you are a homeowner, you will also transfer your home into your trust. This will allow your property to pass to your beneficiaries through the trust. The change in title will not impact on your homestead protections, including tax exemptions and creditor protections. However, there is an additional step you must take with respect to your homeowners insurance policy and umbrella policy. Here’s why: If your policy lists you as the owner of the property with the insurable interest, and the trust is now the owner, you could encounter difficulties if you ever file a claim. Sure, a mismatch between what’s on the insurance policy and the title like this seems like a mere technicality. But let’s face it, insurance companies aren’t likely to overlook any “technicality” that allows them to avoid paying a claim.
We recommend that you contact the carrier of your homeowner’s insurance and umbrella policy as soon as possible after transferring your home into your trust. It is likely that the insurer will tell you that only an individual, not a trust, may have an insured interest in a property. Don’t worry if that occurs. Just request that your trust be named as an “additional insured.” Then, follow up with your insurer to confirm that the change was made. Your insurance representative will be able to advise you further on this matter.