A living trust is a document that legally distributes your assets to specified beneficiaries after your death. During your lifetime, you can administer those assets and even name someone to manage them for you, if you are unable or unwilling.
Many people think that trusts are only for the wealthy; however, there are a number of advantages for people of moderate means.
1. Probate Avoidance
Living trusts are not required to go through the probate court after your death. A valid trust can cut costs for family members and reduce the amount of time that it would take for beneficiaries to receive their assets.
2. Protection from Contests
While it would be false to say that trusts completely eliminate contests, trusts have significantly less disputes than wills. It is much more expensive and time consuming to contest a trust and therefore, people don't often pursue a lawsuit.
3. Avoiding Conservatorship
If you've appointed a successor trustee after you die, then the court won't likely appoint a conservator to oversee the estate. This can allow you to have a final say in who manages your assets. If no successor trustee has been designated, then the court will choose the person that the law specifies to handle the estate.
Unlike a will, a trust is private to the decedent and the beneficiaries. It doesn't pass through the probate courts, and therefore, there is no need to make it public.
Want more information?
If you have further questions about trusts in California, visit this FAQ or contact Sterzer & Associates, A Law Corporation. A Huntington Beach estate planning attorney at the firm can review your situation and advise you of the best course of action to take.