The creation of a will is a vital first step to providing for your loved ones after you are gone. However, this document may not be the best way to pass your property on to your heirs. If you have significant assets or want to control the distribution of your wealth to your children, a revocable living trust may be a better way to achieve the peace of mind you deserve.
Benefits of Using a Living Trust as the Basis of Your Estate Plan
A California living trust is a legal entity that holds ownership of some or all of your assets during your lifetime. Instead of owning these assets personally, they are held by the trust and you act as trustee. Upon your death, the assets in the trust are passed to the people you have selected as beneficiaries.
Living trusts are a powerful estate planning tool, as they allow the creator to:
- Control assets. As trustee, you have the power to decide when and how your assets will be used. You can continue to add new holdings to the trust, sell off assets, or even cancel the trust at any time. You also have the power to choose, add, or change beneficiaries as your life circumstances change. Unlike will-based plans, you don’t have to wait until your passing to distribute trust assets to your beneficiaries; you can gift funds and possessions from the trust at any time.
- Protect assets from creditors. We offer a Personal Asset Trust to protect your beneficiaries from those who seek to capitalize on their inheritances, including spouses, parties in a lawsuit, and other creditors.
- Avoid probate. Will-based plans are required to go through the California probate process, incurring attorney fees and forcing beneficiaries to wait months before receiving their inheritances. Any assets in a living trust will pass directly to beneficiaries without the need for probate.
- Maintain privacy. Probate is a matter of public record, meaning the details of your assets, holdings, and beneficiaries will be available for all to see. Trust documents keep your property and your family’s business away from prying eyes.
- Minimize taxes. While there is no estate tax levied by the state of California, the federal government does collect estate tax on the transfer of high-value estates. A living trust helps reduce or eliminate federal estate taxes for a married couple, passing assets from one spouse to another without imposing taxes.
- Protect their future health. Living trusts provide protection if you are suddenly unable to manage your affairs. If you become incapacitated, control of all trust assets immediately passes into the hands of your successor trustee, allowing them to make decisions about trust assets without the need to go to court.
How Do I Create My Own Living Trust?
Living trusts are created with a trust document. A trust document is a legal contract that outlines the details of the trust, including who will act as trustee, how it will be run, names of beneficiaries, and how and when distributions will be made. Once the document has been completed, it must be signed in front of a notary public.
While you do not need an estate planning attorney to print and sign a trust document, the trust will not be functional until you have transferred ownership of your assets into the trust. This mistake happens all too often, as people assume they are protected while their trust sits empty—costing their heirs thousands after their death. When we create your living trust, we ensure the right people will inherit your assets, at the right times, and on the right terms.
At The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc., we understand that there is a stark difference between estate plans that work properly and those that don’t. Our experienced legal team can create a comprehensive and customized plan to give your family peace of mind. Contact us today to get started!