What is a living trust and do I need one—those are two questions I get asked all the time. Simply put, a living trust is a legal document that places your assets in a trust during your lifetime and then is automatically passed onto your designated beneficiaries upon your death. One of the biggest distinctions between a living trust and a will is that a trust is working for you while you are alive, not simply distributing your assets upon your death.
Some of the benefits of a living trust include:
- Avoid Probate: Probate in California can be expensive and time-consuming. When you set up a living trust, you completely avoid probate—your chosen beneficiary completes your instructions for the trust without the help of the court and your intentions are executed quickly, usually within a couple of weeks rather than the months or years it can take for a will.
- Privacy: An extremely important item for many people in life and death, if you want your estate and wishes to be kept private then a living trust is the way to go. This goes back to probate— a will is public record when it is in probate which means that everything on it can be discovered. The same cannot be said for a living trust.
- Power of Attorney: Many people take advantage of a living trust not only as a chance to seamlessly transfer assets but to also provide instructions and control to another person in the event that the trustee is temporarily or permanently incapacitated. Creating a power of attorney in your living trust is something many of my clients opt to do.
Those are just a handful of the benefits of a living trust. Whether or not a living trust is the best estate plan for you and your family really depends on how important the benefits listed above are to you, the size of your estate and whether you have small children or other family members that will need to be specially cared for on your death.
At the Law Offices of Christopher B. Johnson, I am here to help you answer these important questions and come up with the best estate plan for you and your loved ones. Although setting up a living trust is considerably more complex (and also requires continued maintenance) than most wills, it also has a lot more flexibility and benefits than a will. What is best for you is just a quick phone call away. With over 18 years of practice experience, let the Law Offices of Christopher B. Johnson help you. If you are considering a putting together a living trust in Pasadena, give us a call today! I look forward to hearing from you!