Navigating Florida’s Complex Trust and Estate Laws in Real Estate Transactions

Florida’s shimmering coastlines, rich cultural heritage, and thriving urban sprawls make it a hotspot for real estate activities. Yet, when the realm of real estate collides with the intricate world of trust and estate laws, the path can seem like a labyrinth. For beneficiaries, trustees, executors, and even real estate professionals, understanding the confluence of these domains becomes paramount. Join us as we demystify Florida’s complex intersection of trust, estate, and real estate laws.

Trusts and Estates: A Quick Refresher

  • Trusts: A fiduciary relationship where one party, the trustor, gives another party, the trustee, the right to hold property or assets for the benefit of a third party, the beneficiary.
  • Estates: Encompasses all the assets owned by someone at the time of their death, which are used to settle debts and distribute to heirs based on a will (or state law if no will exists).

The Real Estate Conundrum

  • Trust-Owned Property: Real estate owned by a trust is managed by the trustee based on the stipulations in the trust deed. This means the trustee oversees the sale, and the proceeds usually return to the trust for distribution to beneficiaries.
  • Estate-Owned Property: If a property is part of an estate, it may be sold by the estate’s executor or administrator. The funds are then used to settle estate debts or are distributed to heirs based on the deceased’s will or state laws.

Key Points to Consider in Florida

  • Transparency is Key: When dealing with trust-owned properties, prospective buyers often require assurances. Trustees in Florida must be prepared to provide relevant trust documents that outline their authority to sell the property.
  • Homestead Exemption Challenges: Florida has unique homestead laws, granting specific protections against creditors and providing tax benefits. When a property benefiting from the homestead exemption is part of a trust or estate, special considerations come into play, especially if the beneficiaries are direct descendants.
  • Overstepping Boundaries: A trustee must operate within the bounds of the trust document. Selling property without clear authority can lead to legal disputes with beneficiaries.
  • Probate and Real Estate: If a property is part of a decedent’s estate, it may need to go through probate before it can be sold. This can be a lengthy process, requiring patience and meticulous record-keeping.

Navigating Smoothly: Best Practices

  • Consult with Experts: Due to the complexities of these overlapping domains, having a knowledgeable attorney who understands both Florida’s real estate market and its trust and estate laws is invaluable.
  • Clear Communication: Whether you’re a trustee, executor, beneficiary, or buyer, ensure all communications are transparent, documented, and timely.
  • Stay Updated: Florida’s legal landscape, especially concerning real estate, trusts, and estates, evolves over time. Regularly review any legislative changes to remain compliant.


Real estate transactions in the world of trusts and estates blend the old— the wishes of those who have passed on, with the new— the desires and needs of current beneficiaries or buyers. By understanding Florida’s intricate laws surrounding this convergence, parties can ensure a smoother, more informed journey. While the path may seem daunting, with the right knowledge, tools, and guidance, it can be navigated with clarity and confidence.