Living Trust

A living trust is a legal document created during an individual’s lifetime where a designated person (in most cases the person who created the trust), known as the trustee, is responsible for administering the assets placed in the trust first for the benefit of the person or persons who created the trust and second for the eventual beneficiaries. With a living trust, you can easily transfer the assets while bypassing the complicated and expensive court process known as probate. It’s common for individuals and families to create a living trust so they can pass on their assets without court intervention.

A properly structured living trust doesn’t only allow you to avoid probate, but it can help reduce tax liability. Often families who have a living trust set up save hundreds of thousands of dollars in income taxes, estate taxes, and gift taxes depending on the situation. It’s also a private legal document, which means information about the trust will be confidential and the public will have no access to its content. To learn more about trusts and if setting up one is the right decision for your financial future, contact the lawyers at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd..

Living Trust Attorney California | Ventura & Ventura County

If you want to guarantee your loved ones are protected from probate when you pass, we urge you to contact the lawyers at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd.. Our California estate planning attorneys at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. have over 90 years of combined experience assisting individuals and families in every phase of the estate planning process including how to properly set up an effective living trust. Call now to get started today with a skilled and experienced California trust lawyer from Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd..

Set up your first confidential consultation at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. by calling our offices at (877) 585-1885. Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. assists clients throughout the state of California including Ventura, Westlake Village, Valencia, Bakersfield, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo.

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Living Trusts in California Explained

Essentially, a trust is a fiduciary relationship where one individual, referred to as the settlor or grantor, allows the successor trustee authority over any assets placed in a trust for the benefit of a third party—also known as a beneficiary. For the majority of estate plans, the settlor will serve as the trustee while they are alive and upon their death all assets within the trust will pass fee of probate to the designated beneficiaries. In simplest terms, it allows a person to pass wealth from one generation to the next or to their chosen charity without going through probate court.

The successor trustee must operate under the instructions written out in the trust and the beneficiary receives a distribution of the trustor’s assets once they’re deceased. What’s great about a revocable living trust is that you can modify or cancel the provisions in the trust at any time while you’re alive.  You can even revoke the trust entirely if you choose to in your lifetime.

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What Are the Benefits of a Living Trust in California?

A living trust, as opposed to a simple will, is the preferred estate planning for those whose estates may be subject to probate. Establishing a trust does offer various benefits. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Probate Avoidance – With a living trust, you can entirely avoid the delay, expense, and public nature of probate court. Your assets will be administered according to the terms of the trust and your family will save drastically in taxes, fees, and legal costs.
  • Plan for Incapacity – Your family can avoid the need to petition for conservatorship in the event you’re incapacitated if you have a living trust. The trust will have instructions for the successor trustee on how to act on behalf of the incapacitated settlor so they can continue to manage their assets.
  • Potential Tax Savings – Some trusts have estate tax advantages for both the settlor and beneficiary before and after death.
  • Provides Asset Protection – Specific provisions in the trust can be utilized to protect assets from creditors or undue influence.
  • Grants the Family Privacy – A trust is a private document, meaning only individuals with a direct interest in the trust have any right to know of the trust’s contents. Unlike a last will and testament, which is considered public information.
  • Durability – Trusts tend to be much more effective than just a standard will in the event the settlor passes or become incapacitated.

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Living Trust Vs Will in California

Not all estate plans look the same. Every individual should have a customized estate plan to meet their various needs as one person’s financial situation may be drastically different than the next. For some with small estates that don’t include real estate ownership, a last will and testament is more than enough to ensure their assets are distributed according to their wishes. However, there are many situations where a living trust will benefit you more in the end than if you only had a will.

If you only have a will, your beneficiaries will have to go through the process known as probate. It can be an expensive and time-consuming process, and the validity of your will can be disputed. If you transfer assets to a living trust however, then they are exempt from probate.

A living trust is also useful in the event you’re deceased, and you leave behind minor children. If you only have a will, generally the court will bequeath assets to the minor child according to the terms of the will. They will then appoint an adult to manage their inheritance until they reach the age of majority, which is 18 years of age or later if you designate a different age.

However, if you have a living trust you can leave specific instructions for the trustee on how and when to administer your child(ren)’s inheritance privately and without Probate Court intervention or supervision. This way your children are not battling a system to receive what they’re entitled to. There are many other benefits to having a living trust in addition to a will, but whether it’s the right decision for your family will depend on your situation. The best way to determine whether a living trust is right for your financial future is to consult with an experienced California estate planning attorney.

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What Are the Disadvantages of a Living Trust?

As with everything, there are a few disadvantages to setting up a living trust for your estate plan. Listed below are some various reasons why a living trust may not be right for you.

  • It’s generally more expensive to prepare a living trust than a will
  • Transferring assets to your trust involves additional cost and paperwork
  • An estate plan excluding a trust tend to be less elaborate and are more suited for smaller estates with few assets
  • Administration of an Exemption Trust or Credit Shelter Trust may involve additional effort for the surviving spouse which can be difficult while grieving
  • Refinancing real property owned by a trust may require removing the property from the trust before refinancing. Then titling it in the name of the trust after refinancing. This is a minor inconvenience compared to the costs of probate.

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Additional Resources

Living Trust Mills | California Bar Journal – Visit the official website for the California Bar Journal to read an article providing an overview of “living trust mills” con artist schemes. Access the site to learn more about what a living trust mill is, how to spot one, tips on avoiding living trust mills, and other important information.

Trust Law | California Statutes – Visit the official website for California’s Legislative Information to learn more about their laws governing trusts. Access the site to learn the various definitions, the process of trust administration, judicial proceedings regarding trusts, and more.

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California Trust Attorneys | Ventura County | Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd.

Navigating the paperwork and requirements for a living trust can be challenging if you’re unprepared. That is why we highly encourage you to reach out to the California trust lawyers at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. if you need additional help setting up your living trust. Our seasoned estate planning lawyers have over 90 years of combined experience helping individuals and families establish customized estate plans.

Call Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. today at (877) 585-1885 to set up your first consultation. Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. accepts clients throughout California including Ventura County, Los Angeles County, San Luis Obispo County, Kern County, and Santa Barbara County.

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