WLG On Our Mind

Friday, October 16, 2015

San Diego Estate Planning Lawyers Recommend Revocable Living Trusts

San Diego Estate Planning Lawyers Recommend Revocable Living Trusts

OK, that title may be a little misleading, as not every estate planning lawyer in San Diego is going to recommend a revocable living trust for every single client. That said, this particular kind of trust is one that is suggested and discussed a whole lot because of all the things it can do for you, your estate and your family. Non-Attorneys often believe that Living Trusts are just to avoid probate when you die. Experienced Lawyers know that isn’t true. These tools not only help get things in order in case you unexpectedly pass away, but also protects your control over your assets should you become incapacitated or even stuck outside of the country.

You Have Access to Your Stuff

San Diego trust lawyers and clients alike appreciate the revocable living trust because it doesn’t get in the way while its owner is living. It doesn’t impede its owners access to money, property, and so on while they are alive and able to express their wishes. All trusts have the same parties involved – a “settlor” who creates the trust and a “trustee” who manages the trust assets on behalf of the “beneficiaries.” The revocable living trust is special because it allows the creators (“settlors”) to name themselves as “trustees” who are able to direct what happens to the assets of the trust. Money can be spent, property can be sold, investments can be made. There aren’t a whole lot of limitations on what the settlors as trustees are allowed to do with trust’s assets. This flexibility extends to any other trustees who the settlors may designate to handle things if they are not able to act as the trust’s Trustee. This is an incredible benefit to make certain your assets are used the way you want them to be used if you are absent, ill or no longer walking the earth.

What “Revocable” Means

Another reason that revocable living trusts are favored is because the grantor retains the ability to make changes to the trust. In fact, they can even end it altogether if desired, i.e., revoke it. This allows the trust to be especially flexible and to change along with the grantor’s circumstances. A brief meeting with their San Diego trust lawyer is usually all that’s required put in place an amendment to modify or terminate the trust.

You Have Control

As the Settlor of a trust you can provide in your trust document for how your assets are to be used during your lifetime and who gets what, when, and with what conditions or stipulations after you pass away. This means that your wishes, whether to provide an incentive for an adult child to take certain actions or to help your children pay for your grandchildren’s piano lessons or summer camp, you can do so through your revocable and amendable living trust.

What Your Assets are Protected From

When an individual, with more than a small amount of assets, passes away without a trust, his or her estate will go through the probate process. This is a totally public process in which assets will be listed for the courts, debts will be made public, your heirs/beneficiaries and their addresses will be made public, and any number of things someone might rather keep private can become public knowledge. Fortunately, assets held in trust are not exposed to this kind of scrutiny.

Privacy isn’t the only issue people have with probate, either. It is generally lengthy, expensive, and sometimes ridiculously complicated. Typical San Diego Probates take from a year to two years to finish before families can receive their inheritances. California Probate fees are based on the gross value of the assets going through the probate. This can make it very pricey. Estate planning lawyers know this and regularly recommend revocable living trusts as ways to circumvent the process. In fact, someone owning property in both California and one or more other states can avoid probate in more than one state at the same time by placing all the properties into the revocable living trust.

A revocable living trust is only one of the many tools a California trust lawyer has at their disposal, but it is undoubtedly a very important one because it directly benefits their clients during their lifetimes and their client’s heirs upon death. If have questions about how a living trust works or whether it makes sense for you, please give me a call at (619) 281-1888.

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