The Importance of Having a Living Trust in California

The basic purpose of a living trust is to ensure that an appointed trustee of your choosing gains all property or other assets upon your passing or incapacity. If the individual who is in control wants to change details of the trust, they can apply for a revocable living trust. In California, the probate code is not modeled after the Uniform Probate creating complicated process later. A living trust is used by many individuals in California to help their families bypass lengthy probate court proceedings.

Essential Facts About Living Trusts

Here are some vital facts to think about when preparing your living trust:

  • When creating a document, make sure to list who your trustee will be as well as any properties you would like to grant them .
  • If you create a living trust, you will still need to create a will document for any property and assets that are not being granted to your trustee.
  • You can fund a living trust through financial assets such as bank accounts, retirement funds, stocks and bonds. Each of these financial assets has a specific procedure to ensure your trustee is granted them. For example, you can change the legal title of your cars and real estate over to your trustee whereas clothes, jewelry and other valuable items don’t have a legal title. Retirement accounts and life insurance requires you to change over your beneficiary status to your trustee.
  • Have your official living trust document notarized.
  • It’s important to have a estate planning lawyer to help with lowering or eliminating taxes on your estate when your assets are transferred to your trustee.  

Questions About Living Trusts?

Our blog only covers some of the essential information about living trusts. There are more complicated  If you want more information about creating a living trusts, contact the trusted estate planning attorneys at Lowthorp Richards law office. Call (805) 804-3848 or fill out our online contact form.

5 Important Estate Planning Lessons You Should Know

According to research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, only 29.3 percent of Americans have a healthcare directive specifying their end-of-life wishes. Perhaps even more stunning, a survey from Caring.com found that less than half of adults in the U.S. have prepared estate planning documents, such as wills or living trusts.

Here are five tips for estate planning that you should follow – and if you are one of the many Americans who has not made plans for your estate, you might want to take notes.

  1. Understand probate. Probate varies from state to state and comes with a variety of risks. Probate is expensive and can reduce the value of your estate (on average, by about 5 percent). Probate can take years to complete. And probate is a public process, meaning anyone who desires it can look into your personal financial matters.
  2. Always have a backup plan – before and after death. You should have multiple contingency plans to cover any unlikely scenarios, such as a trustee dying before the author of an estate plan. An estate attorney can help you set up these backup plans.
  3. Create a roadmap of your assets. It can be difficult for your family members to navigate the complex web of your finances once you pass on. By consolidating your accounts and leaving behind a roadmap, you will take some of the pressure off your family.
  4. Remember how taxes will affect your estate. The new tax code signed into law by President Donald Trump raised the estate and gift tax exemption from $5.5 million to $11 million. You should know how changes like this may affect your estate.
  5. Check on your plan regularly, especially after a major personal life event that could affect your assets. Otherwise, you may end up having to go through unnecessary probate actions that could cost you.

You can meet with one of our estate planning attorneys for a comprehensive analysis of your estate planning objectives

Prince’s Estate Planning Issues

The legendary rivalry between superstars Prince and Michael Jackson apparently extends beyond the grave in terms of whose estate is more difficult to navigate.  While Michael Jackson had a valid will when he died, controversy surrounded the appointment of an executor, and there remains an ongoing battle between the Jackson family and government agencies regarding the actual value of the estate.  Meanwhile, Prince, notoriously shrewd in business and control of his art and image, didn’t even leave a will.  Having died unmarried with no children (despite the numerous claims of a variety of pretenders to his throne), his statutory heirs comprise of siblings and half-siblings, and up to half of his estate will be paid to state and federal tax agencies.  Of course, the federal government and state of Minnesota are claiming the Purple One’s holdings are worth much more than the heirs claim, meaning his tax bill will be greater as well.  Moreover, the famous vault of unreleased material might double the value of his estate.  Had Prince done some basic estate planning, he could have selected specific beneficiaries and avoid probate altogether.   Continue reading

What is Estate Planning?

Planning for distribution of an estate following death is commonly considered a legal process that is only necessary for wealthy individuals, but the truth is that everyone has a need for some form of estate planning. Every young person with children needs an established will and directive regarding disbursement of personal property and dependent children guardianship in the event of an untimely tragedy. Even possessions as simple as furniture or vehicles are considerations when evaluating what would happen in the event of death or incapacity. Incapacity is another issue that many do not consider either, which can be especially important for young single parents. Everyone needs some form of an estate plan, regardless of the total value of their personal holdings, because passing away intestate can produce results that no one may want. The answer is developing a comprehensive legal directive, usually done most effectively with the counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney such as Lowthorp Richards.
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