Last week we discussed the fact that when you assume the responsibilities of becoming the executor of someone’s California estate, one of your duties will be to pay the taxes owed by both the deceased person and the estate itself. This week we turn to the additional duties you likewise will need to perform.
As you likely already know, when you make a Last Will and Testament in California, in addition to naming the heirs who you want to receive your property upon your death, you also appoint an executor to carry out your wishes when the time comes. You can choose whomever you wish to act in this capacity, but before appointing someone as your executor, you should carefully consider his or her ability to do the job.
For California residents who are dealing with matters of an estate for perhaps the first time, there are a lot of good questions you likely have. Today, we'll focus on trusts, and what their benefits can be for you and your estate.
If you are like many people in California and across the United States, you created your last will and testament while you were of sound mind and body. When writing your will, you determine who you want to have your possessions and finances upon your passing. In some cases, however, there may be people who try to influence you to make drastic changes in your will, especially as you grow older. This is referred to as undue influence, and it can invalidate a will if it is found you were not making the changes and decisions on your own accord.
One reason that someone in California may have to challenge a will signed by a deceased family member is because the relative believes the will was signed or composed under undue influence. We want our loved ones to work out their estate planning with an informed and clear mind. However, this is not always the case.
Being the beneficiary of a trust set up by someone in Woodland Hills may seem like a frustrating proposition. After all, even when you are entitled to a distribution from the trust's assets, such payments often seem to be at the discretion of the trustee. Many have asked us here at The Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo exactly how much control does a trustee have over distributions. Say, for example, that you are due a distribution from the trust, yet the trustee contacts you stating that their is an issue in the trust's management affecting your interests, and that the only way you will get what is coming to you is by absolving him or her of liability for it. Can he or she do that?
For many in Woodland Hills, their greatest fear may be having to be placed under the care of another. Second to that may be the concern that if they do become incapable of caring for themselves, that the person assigned as their guardian or conservator is selected solely at the discretion of the court. While it is true that California law does state that the court does have the ultimate authority to determine who should be the conservator of a person and his or her estate, it does also make room for special considerations to be given to a conservatee and his or her family.
Assuming the role of trustee over a trust account in Woodland Hills may be an unenviable task. By doing so, one agrees to manage the trust assets of another for the benefit of designated beneficiaries. Of course, those beneficiaries may not always be keen to know that their interest in their trust funds is out of their control. These frustrations may often come to a head when the trustee attempts to block any dispersals that he or she believes may be in violation of the trust's purposes. While beneficiaries (as well as others who may have their own interests in a trust's assets) may not like such a move, it should be remembered that it is only being done in what is believed to be their best interests.
When sitting down to consider your estate planning options in Woodland Hills, you might want to keep the idea of managing your assets through a trust towards the front of your mind. This will hopefully ensure their wise management for the benefit of your beneficiaries (or yourself, should you become incapacitated). One question then looms: Who should you choose to be your trustee? You can always go with a bank or legal firm, yet such a decision will likely cost more than having a family member or trusted friend fill the role. It is for this reason why many choose to keep their trustees in the family. Yet when doing so, some say it might be wiser to name a team of co-trustees.
Taking on the role of being a trustee to an instrument or account created by a family member, friend or colleague in Woodland Hills is a large responsibility, and certainly one that should not be taken lightly. You may do well to consider the matter for a time before actually accepting the role. While some (including even possibly the settlor) may question your apprehension in immediately assuming the responsibility, your prudence may ultimately help ensure that the trust is handled properly. The question, however, is whether or not the law automatically assigns you this responsibility.