Similar to a will, a living trust is a legal document that lets you distribute your possessions to people and organizations after you pass away. Unlike a will, though, assets held in living trusts do not have to go through an expensive court process such as probate before being distributed to your beneficiaries — the people you’ve named to receive your assets. It’s common for individuals to create a living trust so they can pass on their assets without court intervention.
A living trust is often the preferred estate plan for many families in the state of California. If you’re considering establishing a trust, it’s important to know that it does carry several benefits and disadvantages.
Listed below are various reasons why a living trust may be the right option to pursue.
Benefits of a Living Trust in California
- Avoid Probate
Probate avoidance is probably the greatest advantage of a revocable living trust. As stated previously, it can help your loved ones escape what’s often a lengthy, expensive, and public probate process.
Assets held in a trust avoid probate because the trust itself remains up and running after the owner or “grantor” passes away. It is unnecessary for the court to oversee or get involved in the process of delegating the assets to the grantor’s beneficiaries since a living trust is automatically set up for that transfer.
- Preserve Privacy
A living trust is a good choice if you’re concerned with keeping records and information about assets private after your death.
A living trust is a private document between the parties involved and does not become part of the public record. In other words, no one can search public records to find out how you distributed your estate.
- Plan for Incapacity
If you become ill or incapacitated, the person you have chosen as successor trustee can step in and manage your affairs without the intervention of a court. Your family can avoid the need to petition for conservatorship.
Disadvantages of a Living Trust in California
While there are several benefits to establishing a living trust, there are also some disadvantages. Most of the advantages of a living trust significantly outweigh any disadvantages, but you should still be aware of them when analyzing your estate planning options.
- More Expensive
One of the primary disadvantages to using a trust is the cost necessary to establish it. It’s generally more expensive to prepare a living trust than a will.
You must create new deeds and other documents to transfer ownership of your assets into the trust after you form it. You’ll have to go through this process with your bank, investment and insurance companies, and transfer agents.
Trusts are often much more complex to draft compared to wills. A will states which items will pass over to certain individuals. A trust may require more details. It may highlight disbursements at certain intervals or give the trustee discretion as to when funds should be taken from the trust and given to the beneficiary. The trustee may also have to register for a trust checking account.
Seek the Assistance of a Highly Skilled Estate Planning Lawyer
If you’re considering setting up a living trust, it’s important to speak with a skilled legal professional. Estate planning is important regardless of whether you’re 25 or 65. With over 60 years of estate planning experience, the lawyers at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. have the resources, tools, and in-depth knowledge needed to help you establish a living trust and avoid the lengthy probate process.
Founder attorney, Christopher E. Botti, is also a Board-Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law.
Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. has offices in Westlake Village, Santa Barbara, Valencia, Ventura, Bakersfield, and San Luis Obispo, California. Call us today at (877) 585-1885 to schedule your first consultation. Our office is prepared to take your call.