Testamentary Trusts Lawyer

Understanding Florida Testamentary Trusts

In the world of estate planning, testamentary trusts are a vital tool that provides individuals with the means to ensure the distribution of the decedent’s assets is by their wishes after they pass away. These trusts are created within a last will and testament and come into effect only upon the testator’s death.


In Florida, testamentary trusts are popular for individuals seeking to protect and manage the assets held for their loved ones or on behalf of the beneficiaries. This article aims to shed light on testamentary trusts, their purpose, types, key participants, their pros and cons, and how to establish one in the Sunshine State.


Begin your journey toward a smoother testamentary trust process in Florida today. Don’t hesitate to reach out to trusted Florida testamentary trust attorney Colby Roof to claim your consultation.

testament and last will document

What Are Testamentary Trusts?

A testamentary trust, often known as will trust, is established through a person’s last will and testament. It only exists once the testator, who created the trust, dies.


Unlike living trusts, testamentary trusts only take effect after the testator’s passing although it becomes active during the grantor’s lifetime.

The Purpose of a Testamentary Trust

The primary purpose of a testamentary trust is to guarantee the proper distribution and administration of the assets owned by the testator after their death. It can be highly flexible and versatile, allowing for a wide range of estate planning goals to be achieved.


Some common purposes of testamentary trusts include:

1. Asset Protection

Testamentary trusts can protect assets from creditors, lawsuits, and even irresponsible beneficiaries, ensuring that the assets remain intact for the intended beneficiaries.

2. Minor Beneficiaries

They are often used to manage assets for minor beneficiaries who can only handle their financial affairs once they reach a specified age or level of maturity.

3. Disabled Beneficiaries

Testamentary trusts can support beneficiaries with disabilities while safeguarding their eligibility for government assistance programs like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

4. Control Over Assets

They allow the testator to exert control over the distribution of their assets, specifying conditions that beneficiaries must meet before they receive their inheritances.

5. Wealth Preservation

Testamentary trusts can be used in managing and preserving family wealth, ensuring it is passed down to future generations.

Types of Testamentary Trusts

Florida has different types of testamentary trusts, each with unique features and functions. The most common types of testamentary trusts include:

1. Spendthrift Testamentary Trust

This particular trust limits the beneficiary’s ability to access the trust assets, with the primary goal of shielding them from creditors and ensuring that the assets are not recklessly spent.

2. Special Needs Testamentary Trust

A special needs trust is created to provide for disabled beneficiaries, such as health care, without disqualifying them from government benefits.

3. Testamentary Trust for Minors

This trust is instituted for the benefit of minors for the purpose of protecting and managing their assets or trust funds until they attain the age of majority.

4. Charitable Testamentary Trust

This trust is designed to support charitable organizations or causes specified by the testator.

5. Marital and Family Testamentary Trusts

These trusts are used to provide for a surviving spouse or other family members after the testator’s death. They can include provisions for income and principal distributions to meet the needs of the beneficiaries.

6. Credit Shelter Testamentary Trust

Also known as a “Bypass Trust” or “AB Trust,” this type of trust is designed to minimize estate taxes, allowing a portion of the estate to pass to heirs without incurring estate tax.

Who Does A Testamentary Trust Involve?

A testamentary trust involves several vital participants, each with their respective roles and responsibilities:

1. Testator

The creator of the trust, known as the testator, outlines their wishes for asset distribution and management in their testament.

2. Trustee

The trustee is responsible for managing the assets held within the testamentary trust so they are distributed based on the terms of the trust specified in the will. Sometimes, the trustee may be an individual or a corporate entity.

3. Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries are those designated to receive the assets held within the testamentary trust. The testator may specify the conditions under which the beneficiaries can access the assets.


Pros And Cons Of A Testamentary Trust

Testamentary trusts offer several advantages, but they also come with some disadvantages. Let’s explore the pros and cons of utilizing a testamentary trust in your estate planning:

Pros Of Testamentary Trusts:

1. Flexibility

Testamentary trusts exhibit remarkable flexibility and can be tailored to harmonize with the testator’s and beneficiaries’ distinct requirements and aspirations.

2. Asset Protection

They can shield assets from creditors and legal claims, ensuring that the intended beneficiaries receive their inheritances.

3. Control

Testators can control how and when their assets are distributed, even after death.

4. Tax Benefits

Certain testamentary trusts, such as credit shelter trusts, can help reduce estate taxes, allowing more of the estate to pass to heirs.

5. Protection For Vulnerable Beneficiaries

Testamentary trusts can cater to minor children, disabled beneficiaries, or individuals with addiction or financial management issues.

Cons Of Testamentary Trusts:

1. Complexity

The process of setting up a testamentary trust can be more time-consuming than handling basic wills.

2. Probate

Testamentary trusts are subject to the Florida probate process, which may lead to incurring expenses and extend the duration of estate settlement.

3. Lack Of Privacy

The terms and details of a testamentary trust, like a will, become a matter of public record during the probate process.

4. Costs

Legal and administrative costs associated with testamentary trusts can be higher than other estate planning tools and methods.

How to Set Up a Testamentary Trust

Setting up a testamentary trust in Florida involves several key steps:

1. Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Seek legal advice from an experienced estate planning lawyer who can lead you through the process and ensure the trust is legally sound.

2. Create a Will

Draft a last one that includes the testamentary trust’s provisions. Specify the type of trust, the trustee, the beneficiaries, and the terms of distribution.

3. Execute the Will

Execute the will by affixing your signature and including the date while in the presence of witnesses and a notary public, strictly adhering to the legal requirements established by the state of Florida for proper will execution.

4. Probate Process

Your will must go through the probate process after passing. During this time, the probate court reviews the will to ensure its validity and to settle your estate. Once the will is accepted, the testamentary trust is established.

5. Trust Administration

The appointed trustee takes over the management of the trust assets, following the instructions outlined in the will. This may include investing assets and real estate, paying decedent’s liabilities, distributing to the trustor’s beneficiaries, and ensuring the trust’s proper operation.

Testamentary Trust FAQs

1. How Do Testamentary Trusts Work?

Testamentary trusts are established through a last will, becoming active only after the testator’s death. The stipulations and provisions of the trust are delineated in the will, and a trustee is designated to oversee the assets and allocate them to the beneficiaries under the testator’s desires.

2. What Are the Types of Testamentary Trusts?

Common types of testamentary trusts include trusts for minors, special needs trusts, spendthrift trusts, charitable trusts, marital and family trusts, and credit shelter trusts. Each serves different estate planning objectives.

3. When Should I Consider Using a Testamentary Trust?

You might consider a testamentary trust if you want to protect assets, provide for specific beneficiaries, or manage the distribution of assets after your death. They can benefit beneficiaries who are minors, disabled, or vulnerable to financial mismanagement.

4. What Are the Advantages of Testamentary Trusts?

Advantages of testamentary trusts include flexibility, asset protection, control over asset distribution, potential tax benefits, and protection for vulnerable beneficiaries.

5. Are There Any Disadvantages to Testamentary Trusts?

Disadvantages of testamentary trusts can include complexity, probate requirements, lack of privacy, and higher legal and administrative costs compared to other estate planning methods.

Connect with a Florida Testamentary Trusts Lawyer

Testamentary trusts play a crucial role in estate planning, offering a means to protect and manage estate assets for the well-being of your loved ones and beneficiaries. In Florida, these trusts provide a range of options to meet various goals, whether it’s asset protection or support for vulnerable beneficiaries like young children.


If you’re navigating the complexities of testamentary trusts or exploring your options, tap into the extensive experience and knowledge of Colby Roof, a seasoned Florida testamentary trust lawyer. He’s ready to guide you through this journey, ensuring precise and efficient execution while upholding the trust’s terms and protecting the rights of both beneficiaries and creditors.


Get in touch with Colby Roof today to schedule your consultation.



The contents of this article are not comprehensive, they provide only a general overview of the subject matter discussed. This article does not establish a client-attorney relationship with the reader, and no legal decisions should be made based on the article’s contents. Because every legal matter arises under unique facts specific to the client, no legal decision should be made without consulting a licensed attorney.

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