Florida law requires that after a person dies, a will must be registered in the county within 10 days. They’re housed in the probate court, and they automatically become public record. For some, the assets of an estate include one or more trusts. Where are trusts recorded in Florida? Does it even need to be recorded? In short, no. Trusts don’t have to be recorded or registered, and that simple fact is one of the key benefits of this asset management tool. It can provide you with complete privacy.
Do Trusts Ever Have to Be Registered?
Where are trusts recorded? Well, in most cases, a trust never has to be recorded or registered. The exceptions to this rule almost always involve real estate transactions. In fact, real estate is an exception in and of itself. Across the U.S., real estate ownership is a matter of public record. Anyone can go to a local land registry office to see who owns property in a given area. Usually, those records include the type of property such as property taxes, the age of the property, last sold, etc. So if you transfer property via a trust, it is hard to keep many of the details confidential.
In some cases, it is necessary to file a Certification of Trust with a bank or title company to prove that a trust exists, which can disclose certain information about the trust. This document, though, usually doesn’t contain any financial or personal information about the trust. Typically it just includes the names of the trustee and certification that the trustees do have the power under the trust to transfer real estate or secure financing. It’s fairly short and sometimes called a Memorandum of Trust. Should this document be required, the estate lawyer will typically prepare it so you can present it to the individuals who require it for your next venture.
Trusts may also become public knowledge if a lawsuit is involved. If you create a trust and have one beneficiary who is not happy and decides to sue you, as a result of the lawsuit, the trust contents become a public record. While such lawsuits are not common, they do occur when one beneficiary feels that he or she did not receive the right amount of inheritance or was left with nothing.
Beneficiaries themselves may also choose to disclose the terms of their trust. In some states, it is a requirement that if you create a living trust the trust terms must be disclosed to the beneficiaries. Upon your death, the trustee has to provide a copy of the trust to the beneficiaries. However, depending on the state, you may have to provide a full copy or partial copy of the trust to the beneficiaries when you actually create the trust. This means that each beneficiary knows what all others are going to be receiving.
On the whole, though, once you create a living trust, you can rest assured that it will remain confidential. The individual you name to manage the trust (the trustee) will be the only person who knows the contents of the trust. The trustee will usually follow the directions stated in the trust without needing approval from anyone or the courts. Hopefully, you learned more than where trusts are recorded, and hopefully you now have a better understanding of how trusts work as a whole.
But if you still have questions, please feel free to contact us today! We have years of experience helping Floridians, and we’d be happy to help you too.