Creating an estate plan in Pasadena can be a challenge, given the sheer diversity of instruments available and the number of potentially useful strategies. Below, we overview the living trust and discuss related and effective planning tools.
A trust can be an incredibly powerful estate planning tool. Individuals establish a living trust to reduce estate tax burdens, avoid fees and sidestep the probate process, which can be costly and challenging to navigate. In most cases, the author of the trust and owner of the assets (the “trustee”) has the authority to use, sell, or distribute those assets. The “beneficiary” is the person who receives the assets from the trust. You play all three roles until your death, at which time the trustee becomes whomever you name a successor.
Trustees and Successors
Once the assets go into a trust, they legally belong to the trust. The trustee then has the authority to do what he or she wishes with those assets. The owner lets the trustee to follow his or her wishes for how assets are distributed.
When you first establish this instrument, you will likely name yourself as trustee until your death or medical incapacitation. At that point, your successor assumes the role of trustee and manages your affairs. You must establish a clear line of succession in terms of who is responsible for your estate. Typically, it might fall from you to your spouse, then to your children, and then to other relatives.
Navigating personal finances, annuities, pensions, liquid assets, stock portfolios, insurance policies, and heirlooms can be daunting. Do not be afraid to ask for help from licensed professionals. Estate advisors may include:
- Insurance professionals. They can explain the details of any relevant policies and how they affect the estate.
- Investment professionals. Stock managers or banking professionals can help manage your liquid assets and investments.
- Accountants can provide sound financial advice, pay expenses, prepare statements and handle your taxes.
Legal Help with Estate Planning in Pasadena
Competent legal counsel can help you establish a living will or trust, connect with relevant advisors, and review all of your options for setting up an estate plan so that it resonates with your values, protects what you’ve accumulated from “creditors and predators,” and ensures your legacy.
The Law Office of Christopher B. Johnson has assisted families with their estates for over 18 years. Contact us today if you have any questions or wish to begin organizing your affairs.