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  • Writer's pictureErik Arroyo

The Difference Between a Florida Inter Vivos Trust and a Florida Land Trust


Trusts are essential estate planning tools that allow individuals to manage and distribute their assets in a controlled and efficient manner. In Florida, two popular types of trusts are the Inter Vivos Trust, authorized by The Trust Code in Chapter 736 of the Florida Statutes, and the Land Trust, authorized by the Land Trust Act in Chapter 689 of the Florida Statutes. This article will explore the differences between these two types of trusts and highlight their unique features, benefits, and considerations.


Florida Inter Vivos Trust

Definition and Purpose

An Inter Vivos Trust, also known as a living trust, is a legal arrangement in which a person, called the grantor, transfers their assets into a trust during their lifetime. The trust is managed by a trustee for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The purpose of an Inter Vivos Trust is to provide greater control over asset distribution, avoid probate, and potentially reduce taxes.


Types

There are two main types of Inter Vivos Trusts:

  1. Revocable Trust: The grantor retains the right to amend or terminate the trust during their lifetime. It provides greater flexibility and control over the trust assets.

  2. Irrevocable Trust: The grantor cannot amend or terminate the trust once it is established. It offers more robust asset protection and tax benefits compared to a revocable trust.

Advantages

  1. Avoidance of probate, which can save time and money

  2. Greater control over asset distribution and management

  3. Potential tax benefits, depending on the type of trust and assets

  4. Enhanced privacy since the trust document is not a public record

Disadvantages

  1. The complexity of setting up and maintaining a trust

  2. Additional costs associated with trust administration and professional fees

  3. The irrevocable nature of certain trusts may limit flexibility in changing circumstances

How to Establish an Inter Vivos Trust

To establish an Inter Vivos Trust, the grantor needs to follow these steps:

  1. Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss the goals and objectives of the trust.

  2. Decide whether a revocable or irrevocable trust is more appropriate based on the grantor's specific needs and circumstances.

  3. Draft a trust agreement, which outlines the terms of the trust, the powers and duties of the trustee, and the rights and interests of the beneficiaries.

  4. Transfer assets to the trust, such as real estate, bank accounts, investments, and other personal property.

  5. Appoint a trustee to manage the trust assets according to the terms of the trust agreement.

Florida Land Trust

Definition and Purpose

A Florida Land Trust is a legal arrangement in which the title to real property is held by a trustee for the benefit of the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries retain control over the management and use of the property while maintaining privacy. Land trusts are typically used to hold title to real estate and are popular among real estate investors and developers.

Features

  1. The trustee holds legal title to the property but has limited powers, acting only upon the direction of the beneficiaries.

  2. The beneficiaries have equitable title and retain control over property management, sales, and leasing.

  3. The trust agreement is a private document, which helps maintain the privacy of the beneficiaries.

Advantages

  1. Enhanced privacy for property ownership

  2. Protection from personal liability related to the property

  3. Flexibility in property management and decision-making

  4. Simplified estate planning and property transfer

Disadvantages

  1. The complexity of establishing and maintaining a land trust

  2. Limited asset protection benefits compared to other types of trusts

  3. Potential complications with financing and title insurance

How to Establish a Florida Land Trust

To establish a Florida Land Trust, follow these steps:

  1. Consult with an experienced Florida attorney who specializes in real estate or estate planning to discuss your objectives and requirements.

  2. Draft a land trust agreement, outlining the trustee's limited powers, the rights and interests of the beneficiaries, and the terms governing the trust's administration.

  3. Select a trustee who will hold legal title to the property. This can be an individual, a corporation, or a trust company.

  4. Execute a deed transferring the property's title to the trustee, in their capacity as trustee of the land trust.

  5. Record the deed with the appropriate county recorder's office to establish the trust's legal existence.

Comparison Between Inter Vivos Trust and Land Trust

Control and Decision Making

While both Inter Vivos Trusts and Land Trusts offer a degree of control to the grantor or beneficiaries, the level of control differs. In an Inter Vivos Trust, the trustee manages the assets on behalf of the beneficiaries, while in a Land Trust, the beneficiaries retain direct control over property management decisions.


Privacy

Both types of trusts provide privacy, but Land Trusts are specifically designed to maintain the privacy of property ownership. In an Inter Vivos Trust, privacy is achieved through the non-public nature of the trust document, while a Land Trust's primary purpose is to shield the identities of the property owners.


Asset Protection

Inter Vivos Trusts, particularly irrevocable trusts, provide more comprehensive asset protection compared to Land Trusts. Irrevocable trusts can protect assets from creditors and lawsuits, while Land Trusts primarily offer protection from personal liability related to the property. It is important to note that Land Trusts are not designed to protect assets from all types of creditors, and their effectiveness in asset protection may vary depending on the situation.


Taxation

Inter Vivos Trusts can offer potential tax benefits, depending on the type of trust and assets involved. For example, an irrevocable trust can help reduce estate taxes by removing assets from the grantor's taxable estate. On the other hand, Land Trusts do not provide significant tax benefits. They mainly serve to simplify property ownership and management while maintaining privacy.


Succession Planning

Inter Vivos Trusts are more versatile in terms of succession planning, as they can be used to manage various assets and provide for the financial well-being of beneficiaries. They allow the grantor to establish detailed instructions for asset distribution and beneficiary provisions. In contrast, Land Trusts focus primarily on real estate and are more limited in their succession planning capabilities.


Estate and Gift Tax Considerations

Both Inter Vivos Trusts and Land Trusts have different implications on estate and gift taxes. For example, assets transferred into an irrevocable Inter Vivos Trust may be removed from the grantor's taxable estate, potentially reducing estate tax liability. However, gift tax implications may arise when assets are transferred to an irrevocable trust.

On the other hand, assets held in a Land Trust are generally still considered part of the grantor's estate for estate tax purposes. Therefore, Land Trusts do not provide the same estate tax reduction benefits as irrevocable Inter Vivos Trusts. However, they do offer a more straightforward approach to transferring property upon the grantor's death, which can avoid probate and potentially reduce estate administration costs.


Conclusion

In summary, both Florida Inter Vivos Trusts and Land Trusts serve different purposes and offer unique advantages in estate planning and asset management. Inter Vivos Trusts provide greater control over asset distribution, potential tax benefits, and more comprehensive asset protection. Land Trusts, on the other hand, are primarily used for real estate ownership and offer enhanced privacy and simplified property managconsidering which type of trust is best suited for your needs, it is essential to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that your trust is set up in accordance with your specific goals and objectives.


Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Inter Vivos Trust and Land Trust


When deciding between an Inter Vivos Trust and a Land Trust, consider the following factors:

  1. Type of Assets: Inter Vivos Trusts can hold various types of assets, including real estate, investments, and personal property. In contrast, Land Trusts focus solely on real estate.

  2. Estate Planning Objectives: Determine your primary estate planning objectives, such as asset protection, privacy, tax benefits, and succession planning. Inter Vivos Trusts generally offer a wider range of benefits, while Land Trusts focus on privacy and simplified property management.

  3. Flexibility: Assess the level of flexibility you require in managing your assets. Revocable Inter Vivos Trusts offer more flexibility, while irrevocable trusts and Land Trusts are more restrictive in terms of making changes.

  4. Costs and Complexity: Both types of trusts involve costs and complexity in establishing and maintaining the trust. Consider whether the benefits of each type of trust justify the costs and effort involved.

  5. Legal and Tax Implications: Consult with an estate planning attorney and a tax advisor to understand the legal and tax implications of each type of trust.

FAQs


Q1: Can I have both an Inter Vivos Trust and a Land Trust?

Yes, you can establish both types of trusts to meet your specific estate planning needs. An Inter Vivos Trust can be used to manage various assets, while a Land Trust can be established specifically for real estate.


Q2: Is a Land Trust the same as a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)?

No, a Land Trust is a legal arrangement for holding title to real property, while a REIT is a company that owns and operates income-producing real estate or related assets.


Q3: Can I transfer my property from an Inter Vivos Trust to a Land Trust?

Yes, you can transfer the property from one trust to another, but it's essential to consult with an experienced attorney to ensure the transfer is done correctly and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.


Q4: Can a non-Florida resident establish a Florida Land Trust?

Yes, a non-Florida resident can establish a Florida Land Trust. However, it is essential to consult with a Florida attorney experienced in Land Trusts to ensure compliance with state laws.


Q5: How do I choose between an Inter Vivos Trust and a Land Trust?

The choice between an Inter Vivos Trust and a Land Trust depends on your specific goals, objectives, and the assets involved. Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine which type of trust is best suited for your needs.

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