Legal Requirements for Trusts

Bellaire estate planning attorney reviewing legal bookIf you are interested in creating a trust as part of your estate plan, a Belleair estate planning attorney can discuss the legal formalities that must be executed with trusts. Additionally, your Belleair estate planning attorney can explain that these formalities are the same as those required by individuals who make a valid will.


One basic requirement of a valid trust that your Belleair estate planning attorney can mention to you is the need for the trust to be in writing.


Additionally, your Belleair estate planning attorney can explain that you must sign the trust or ask another person to sign on your behalf in your presence. Two witnesses must see this signing personally. These witnesses must also sign the trust in front of the person creating it and in the presence of one another.

Presumption of Revocability

The person who establishes the trust is usually able to revoke or amend the trust at his or her bidding unless the trust is expressly made irrevocable.

Revoking or Amending a Trust

If only one person created the trust, the settlor can generally amend or revoke the trust by substantially complying with a revocation or amendment provision in the trust. If the trust does not say how to amend or revoke the trust, the settlor can revoke or amend it by making a later will or codicil that specifically devises the trust property or any other method that provides clear and convincing evidence of the settlor’s intention to revoke or amend the trust. Again, the formalities of creating a will are required.

Special Rules Regarding Joint Settlors

If more than one settlor established a trust, such as when a married couple does, there are different rules regarding revoking or amending the trust. For example, if the trust has community property in it, the trust can be revoked by either spouse. However, it can only be amended by both of the spouses together. For property amendments that are separate property, each settlor can revoke or amend the trust regarding that part of the trust individually. Contact a Belleair estate planning attorney from the Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474 for help with your estate plan.

Health Care Advanced Directives

Dunedin estate planning attorney gavel and American flag

While much of estate planning involves the distribution of certain assets, a Dunedin estate planning attorney can discuss the importance of healthcare documents. These documents can have a significant impact on your future and well-being.

General Information on Advanced Directives

Your Dunedin estate planning attorney can explain that an advanced directive is a statement that gives certain directions to healthcare providers. The individual giving the instructions is referred to as a “principal.” The principal. A Dunedin estate planning attorney can explain that the most common kinds of advance directives are health care surrogate designations and living wills.

Health Care Surrogates

Additionally, your Dunedin estate planning attorney can explain that health care surrogates are individuals who are allowed to make decisions on behalf of the principal once the principal is declared to be incapacitated. Additionally, these individuals are given the power to consult with healthcare providers and access medical records to help them make more informed decisions. They also have the authority to give consent on behalf of the principal. Health care surrogates can apply for benefits and access income and asset information for this cause.

Your Dunedin estate planning attorney can explain the legal requirements of appointing a health care surrogate. To create a surrogate, the principal must be competent at the time of the designation. Additionally, the principal must sign a document that designates a health care surrogate. If the principal needs someone else to sign the form because he or she is physically incapable, the principal can direct another person to sign for him or her. Two witnesses must be present at the signing, neither of whom can be the health care surrogate. Only one of the two witnesses can be the principal’s spouse or relative.

Living Wills

A living will provides specific directions from the principal regarding important health care matters. The living will applies to when a person has a terminal illness, has an end-stage condition or when the person is in a persistent vegetative state. Directions may pertain to providing life-prolonging procedures, withholding these procedures or withdrawing these procedures.

Contact a Dunedin Estate Planning Attorney

If you would like more information on this topic, contact the Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474.

Probate Advantages and Disadvantages

Largo estate planning attorney Money and CalculatorWhile you may have heard many individuals talk about the hideous probate process and the desperate need to avoid them, your Largo estate planning attorney can explain the advantages as well as disadvantages of the probate process. Being more informed on this topic can help you construct a more effective estate plan with your Largo estate planning attorney.

Disadvantages of Probate

Your Largo estate planning attorney can explain that the most significant disadvantage of probate is that it takes too much time. While life insurance proceeds may go to the beneficiary shortly after the necessary forms and proof of death are completed or a property may immediately transfer if there is a right of survivorship attached to it, probate can take many months or even years. This means that the beneficiaries may not receive needed assets until well after the decedent dies. Another disadvantage that your Largo estate planning lawyer may discuss with you is the cumbersome characteristic of probate. Probating a will can involve the need to file numerous documents with the court.

How to Avoid Probate

Due to these disadvantages, your Largo estate planning lawyer may recommend attempting to avoid probate. This can be accomplished through several avenues, such as by providing inter vivos gifts, adding a transfer on death characteristic for bank accounts, joint tenancies with the right of survivorship for certain bank accounts and real property, trusts and life insurance policies.

Advantages of Probate

Probate offers some advantages. For example, it usually provides greater protection to your beneficiaries. Additionally, it has an established set of rules to help handle creditor claims of the estate.

Unexpected Circumstances

While many individuals have the goal of avoiding probate, they may be unaware of the consequences that can occur when this route is taken. For example, if a person is added to an account so that the account can pass automatically at death, that individual may make charges that the original owner did not authorize. Likewise, a person may use up their gift tax and have their beneficiaries liable for estate tax.

If you would like more information on the probate process, contact the Coleman Law Firm at 727-461-7474.

Is it worth it to file an action in FINRA if you’ve been wronged?

Largo Securities Litigation Attorney Gavel and American flagIn April of 2014, FINRA Dispute Resolution published their Dispute Resolution Statistics detailing things such as how many cases have been filed through April of 2014, the number of cases closed, the turnaround time for cases to go through the system, mediation statistics, yearly volume comparison of cases filed,  arbitration cases by controversy involved, security types involved in arbitration cases, the amount of case closed per year since 1999, how arbitration cases close since 2010, and the results of Customer Claimant Arbitration Award Cases since 2009.

A full copy of this document can be found here:

While the number of filings has been reduced from 1,541 in 2012 to 1,344 in 2014, it appears that it’s taking longer for them to be concluded in every category.