Making sure loved ones are provided for after death is the number one priority for many people. One of the biggest concerns in estate planning is ensuring that your heirs inherit exactly what you intend after you pass. Living trusts are valuable tools that can help you control your assets before and after your death. With the added benefit of avoiding probate, they are a popular choice for distributing assets in California.
In California, a revocable living trust is a legal document that places some or all of your assets in the control of a trust while you are still alive. Even with the trust in place, you are able to continue using the assets. Upon your death, the assets are then transferred to whomever you named as beneficiaries.
Revocable living trusts are a popular estate planning tool because they allow the asset holder to maintain control of the entire inheritance process. In addition to naming your beneficiaries, you choose the trustee who will be responsible for managing the assets while you’re alive and distributing them after you’re gone. You also get to choose which assets are placed in the trust, and provide exact instructions for how the assets are to be distributed upon your death. A revocable living trust can be modified or cancelled at any time while you’re still alive.
The Benefits of a Living Trust
One of the main benefits of a living trust is that it bypasses probate, meaning you avoid the executor and attorney fees that are a standard part of the probate process. However, it’s important to note that a living trust does not allow you to avoid estate taxes. The assets in your revocable trust will still be subject to all applicable state and federal estate taxes, just as they would if you were to pass them on in a will (for those who want to avoid estate taxes, irrevocable trusts provide a better option).
Living trusts are ideal for those individuals who want to maintain as much control as possible over the distribution of their assets. Unfortunately, many people become unexpectedly incapacitated prior to their deaths, leaving them unable to express their wishes. With a revocable living trust, your intentions will be known, even if you are later no longer able to make decisions.
Living trusts are also a great way to handle the inheritance of specific assets that you care about. You have the freedom to choose exactly which assets the trust covers, unlike a will, which applies to all your assets. They are also useful if you want some of your assets to be passed on during your life, and not only after your death.
Another key benefit of living trusts is that they afford privacy. When your assets go through probate, that process becomes part of the public record. Trust documents, in contrast, never enter the court system, and therefore never become public.
Estate planning can be a complicated and emotional process. At the Christopher B. Johnson Law Office, we have over 18 years of experience helping clients with their estate planning needs. Making decisions about your estate today will ensure you peace of mind tomorrow. Contact us today to discuss whether a revocable living trust is the right option for you