Want to leave assets of any kind to loved ones? You’ll need to plan ahead. There are a number of options used to pass wealth to the next generation, including a last will and testament. This is a legal document designating someone to be in charge of your estate after you die and telling them how you want your assets to be divided.
Another means of passing assets along is explained in the recent article from The Motley Fool, “3 Reasons to Seriously Consider Using a Living Trust to Pass Inheritance to Your Family.” A living trust is a legal entity created while you are living to hold assets and designates someone to manage and disburse them based on specific directions in the trust document. You don’t have to be wealthy to have a trust.
While these two instruments sound similar, they have unique elements, making one better than another in certain situations. For many people, a living trust can benefit the individual making the trust (the grantor) and their families. Here are a few to consider.
Maintaining privacy. Wills must go through probate, a court-supervised process to review the decedent’s assets, approve their executor, and rule on the will's validity. Because the will is under the court's review, it becomes public information. In most jurisdictions, anyone who wants to see your will can. They can also see who received what assets.
If you have concerns about maintaining your privacy or the privacy of your heirs, it may be worthwhile to create a trust. This will keep your assets and your heir’s receipt of assets private. The only people who know what’s in a trust are the grantor, the trustee who manages the trust, and the beneficiaries.
Avoiding long delays. Since a living trust doesn’t go through probate, it may be possible for the trustee to make distributions of assets much faster. The executor typically needs to file the will for probate and wait for the process to be concluded. Only then can they carry out the directions of a will.
When assets are in a trust, the trustee can implement the terms of the trust more quickly. This can significantly help loved ones, especially if they have paid for long-term care, hospital bills, funeral expenses, etc. If they were relying on an inheritance to cover these costs, the faster the trust can reimburse them, the better.
Managing assets if you become incapacitated. One of the biggest advantages of having a trust over a will is its value during your lifetime. A will doesn’t take effect until you die. On the other hand, a living trust with a successor trustee allows the successor to manage the trust if you become incapacitated and cannot serve as the primary trustee.
Whether you have a living trust or not, you will want to name a Power of Attorney who will manage your financial and legal affairs if you cannot do so. However, financial institutions can be challenging when dealing with a POA.
Changing the trustee does not impact the trust’s status as a separate legal entity. The successor trustee steps in, and financial institutions will generally be on notice as long as the initial trust documents specify who the successor trustee will be.
Talk with your estate planning attorney about using a living trust as part of your estate plan. It may be wise to use a combination of a will and a trust to achieve your desired outcome. Do remember estate planning is not just for what happens after you die but for preparing to care for yourself and your family while you are living. A living trust could serve you and your family well, during life and after death.
If you need help with setting up a trust, or if you intend to set up your estate plan but don't know where to start, we are here to help! Contact The Werner Law Firm probate attorneys in Los Angeles for a free consultation!
If you have any questions, schedule a free appointment with us through our online appointment page.
You can also read reviews from some of the hundreds of clients we have helped over the years.
Reference: The Motley Fool (Oct. 31, 2023) “3 Reasons to Seriously Consider Using a Living Trust to Pass Inheritance to Your Family”
Founded in 1975 by L. Rob Werner and serving California for over 48 years, our dedicated attorneys are available for clients, friends, and family members to receive the legal help they need and deserve. You can trust in our experience and reputation to help navigate you through your unique legal matters.
Whether you need help creating a living trust or navigating probate, our living trust law firm's compassionate team of estate planning lawyers and probate lawyers are here to help you and ready to answer your questions.
Our goal is to make your case as easy as possible for you. Hiring a lawyer can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. From the moment you contact our firm, through the final resolution of your case, our goal is to make the process easy and understandable. We cannot change the fact that probate is a long and complicated process, but through our Werner Law Firm Difference, we strive to go out of our way to keep you informed of your case through every step of the way. We are constantly refining our processes and procedures for a more streamlined and calm client experience. Our goal is to have you feel like a burden was lifted from your shoulders, and that we made the whole process an easy one
If you're dealing with a legal matter, we urge you to schedule a free initial appointment today and join the many satisfied clients who have contacted Werner Law Firm.
23 Corporate Plaza Dr., Suite 150
Newport Beach, California 92660