The phrase “estate planning” conjures up images of old guys in smoking jackets and their trophy wives figuring out who will get to inherit their palatial mansion when they die. But, if you’ve been paying attention, you should already know that having an estate plan is essential for everyone in California. Regardless of your income, wealth or current holdings, everyone should have, at minimum, a will, a power of attorney and a medical power of attorney.
But what about a living trust? What does it do and do you need one? A living trust — so called because it functions while you’re alive — accomplishes a couple of different objectives. One of the primary goals is to avoid probate proceedings, which can be complex and costly. This is because everything that’s a part of the living trust is not considered part of the probate estate. It’s your trust and you get to decide what’s done with it. At any time, you can add or take things out, charge terms or end it entirely.
A living trust, sometimes called a revocable trust, can also be used in the case you are incapacitated or not able to run your financial affairs. An agent of your choosing can take over and make decisions that follow your wishes.
Finally, trusts are generally not made public, unlike probated documents like wills and inventories, so if privacy is an issue, a trust is the way to go.
A California attorney can sit down with you, look over your financial situation and help you decide the best course of action for your estate. Remember, having these things in order is an essential step to ensure you are taken care of in your later years and ensures your legacy will live on when you are gone.
Source: heraldextra.com, “Estate planning: It’s not only for wealthy families, it is for everyone,” Amy Marty, May 21, 2014