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Estate Planning - Living Trusts


You've probably seen commercials and advertisements touting the benefits of Living Trusts. If your estate will be less than $100,000, then a Living Trust is probably not necessary because your estate will likely avoid Probate anyway. But if you own real estate, or other assets worth more than $100,000 in total, then a Living Trust is necessary for your heirs to avoid the six-month to two-year wait, the publicity, and the thousands of dollars expended in Probate.

A trust is a written document under which money or other assets are transferred from one person (the "grantor") to another person or institution such as a bank (the "trustee"), to be managed and used for the benefit of a third person (the "beneficiary"). Trusts can be designed to accomplish a wide range of financial and estate planning goals. There are two basic types of trusts: the "living trust" and the "testamentary trust":

Living trusts, also known as "inter vivos" trusts, are created during the lifetime of the grantor.  Testamentary trusts are drafted as part of a will and take effect after the death of the grantor.  By naming a trust as beneficiary of your life insurance policy, you can exercise greater control over the distribution and management of the proceeds than by designating an individual beneficiary. For example, instead of naming your 5-year-old son as policy beneficiary, which could permit him to access the funds at 18, you could have a trust drawn up with your sister as trustee which directs her to make distributions to your son at ages 25, 30, and 35. Trusts can help ensure equitable treatment of children with different financial needs (one child may have health problems or need special schooling), and can provide financial security for an ill spouse unable to manage his or her investments.

A Living Trust is completely revocable ... meaning you can change your mind at any time. Its function is to hold title to your property while you are the Trustee and in complete control, and to distribute the property at your death according to your wishes. It really takes the place of a Will - although we will be preparing a "pour-over" Will to go along with your Living Trust in order to make sure everything ends up in the Trust. We will prepare the Advanced Health Care Directive/Power of Attorney and a Power of Attorney for Financial Management.  Call us for further information regarding preparation of a Living Trust Document.




State of Law

Please also remember that the state of the law discussed on this website is from a San Diego, California perspective and will vary somewhat, depending on what's being discussed, in the other states and territories in the United States.

As well, the state of family law often changes swiftly and your situation may be dealt with differently than as set out on this website because of changes of law or of fresh judicial interpretations.

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