What is a Living Trust?
A Living Trust is a document that creates a legal
entity. It is a "Living" Trust because it remains "alive" after your death.
The Trust’s purpose is to assure proper management
of your affairs during and after your lifetime, even if you become
While you are living you have complete control over
your assets - they belong to you as Trustee of your Trust.
A Trust does not pay any taxes or require you to
file any extra income tax returns during your lifetime. You file and pay just as
you do now, as though the Trust did not exist.
A Trust gives you control over what happens to your
home, bank accounts and personal property after your death.
A Trust allows you to specify who gets your assets,
under what conditions, and in what manner distributions are made.
A Trust can be changed or even revoked entirely
during your lifetime, but cannot be changed after you die.
You should always consult with an attorney when
creating a Living Trust.
A properly funded trust completely avoids probate.
Is a Will good enough?
With a Will, your chosen agent distributes your
estate according to your wishes. However, a Will alone will not avoid
probate, will not reduce estate taxes, will not make funds
immediately available and may result in financial hardship for your family.
Your Will is public information and may be viewed
in the probate court by anyone after your death. Sadly, the probate process is
very slow, often nine months to two years or more.
What happens if I die
without a Will or a Trust?
The court will
probate all but the smallest estates. This almost certainly includes anyone
owning a home.
The probate court
judge will appoint an executor to manage and distribute your estate (this person
will likely be a complete stranger). Distribution will be made to legal heirs
whether you want this or not.
Court, legal, and
administrative fees will be taken out of your estate.
If you own a business, activities may be disrupted
Your family, even while mourning your death, will
be burdened with red tape while clearing up your estate.
What happens if I die with a Trust?
When you protect your assets and family with a
Trust, your affairs are kept private and all your wishes are carried out as you
instruct. There is no probate, no probate fees, no court or judge involved, and
What is Probate?
Probate is a court proceeding that results when a
person with assets worth over $100,000 dies without a Living Trust. The process
is often slow, public and expensive. Your heirs will not have access to your
assets until the judge says they can be released. A Will alone does not avoid
Is Probate Expensive?
Yes, it is generally many times more expensive than
the cost of trusts, wills or other estate planning instruments. And expensive as
it is, the cost in dollars is probably less important than the cost of the
emotional turmoil experienced by the family who is left to straighten out
affairs that a trust would have avoided altogether.
Costs include court filing fees, attorney’s
standard fees (and often, in addition, what the court calls attorney’s
“extraordinary fees”), and personal representative fees. It is not uncommon for
fees on an average size estate to be as much as $25,000 or more.
How Does A Trust Benefit Me?
Protect your family from enduring the expense and
red tape of Probate.
Avoid having a Judge determine how your estate will
Reduce or eliminate the need for the court to
appoint a conservator if you become incapacitated.
Allow your chosen Successor to arrange for your
Reduce or eliminate estate tax (for couples) by
preserving and utilizing your federal estate tax exemption after your death.
Allow you to maintain control over your assets
while you are living and to control the distribution of your estate after your
Give you Peace of Mind, knowing that you have a
plan in place that benefits you now, and your family and heirs after your death.
What documents are included?
Our Estate Plan contains a complete set of documents including, where needed:
Sources for More Information*
We want you to have unbiased information from as
many sources as possible. Here are some very good sources of such information:
The State Bar of California
* Links provided here do not imply these
organizations endorse our company, products or services.