Estate Planning Series: Why You Need a Revocable Living Trust

Probate is a lengthy and expensive process that is governed by the California Probate Code, involving Court oversight of the distribution of a decedent’s estate. The process includes the court appointment of a personal representative, an inventory and valuation of the assets of the decedent and ultimately the identification of heirs and determination of inheritance. Attorney’s and Executor’s fees are guaranteed by the law, based on the value of the assets of the estate, and can add up quickly, specifically if the decedent owned any real estate in California.

A will alone will not avoid probate. However, establishing a revocable living trust can ensure that inheriting family members and friends are able to avoid the probate process. This provides privacy in that the administration of a person’s estate that is held in trust is not a matter of public record, as probate is. While the Trustee is able to request a reasonable fee for his or her services, the amount of the fee is not mandated by law, may be waived, and is often far lower than that provided to an Executor or other Personal Representative. A trust administration may be completed swiftly and will not involve the delay of the court system, including petitioning the court for approval or the unexpected continuance of court hearings.

The primary parts of the revocable living trust are the Trustee(s), beneficiaries, and assets. The Trustee is the person or persons who is charged with administering the Trust and following its terms. When you create a revocable living trust, you will be the Trustee and will manage the assets of your own Trust, exactly as you had before. You will select beneficiaries who will ultimately receive your assets when you pass away. You have flexibility as to who will receive your assets and under what terms. Your assets will be titled to your trust, with the authority to take action over your assets vested in the Trustee. When you pass away, a successor trustee will step into this role and will carry out your wishes.

Revocable living trusts can also provide other benefits, such as asset protection, planning for the reduction of taxes, and the simple peace of mind to know that your loved ones will be protected, and your wishes carried out as you intend.

For more information on Wills, Trusts, Probate or the creation of an estate plan, please contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at Chauvel & Glatt. 

The material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute, legal advice or promise similar outcomes. For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-573-9500.

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