A simple will is one of the most basic California estate planning documents there is, and everyone over the age of eighteen should have one to make sure that there is no question about what would happen to their assets (and kids) if something happened to them. But there are some cases when having a trust in addition to a will is imperative; here are six of them:
Avoiding probate or conservatorship. To carry out instructions in a will, a probate must be opened in the county where the decedent lived. That means your family is stuck dealing with the Court if you get hospitalized or die. As the old joke among attorneys goes, where there’s a will, there’s a probate. A trust, on the other hand, bypasses the probate process completely; saving the people you love time, money, privacy, and emotional energy.
Providing for a person with special needs. If you have a child or another dependent with special needs, a trust commonly known as a Special Needs Trust can protect assets for a special needs person without jeopardizing their qualification for government benefits. That’s a big deal. A will only allows you to transfer assets to a special needs person, but does not provide any protection for those assets.
Privacy. Since a will undergoes probate in California courts, it becomes a matter of public record. That means creditors, predators, and opportunists will all be on notice your loved ones are receiving assets. A trust is totally private.
Blended families. If you are part of a blended family, a trust can give you flexibility to ensure children of prior marriages are provided for in exactly the way you want.
Out-of-state property. If you own property in a state other than California, you can more easily transfer ownership via a trust than through a will. Transferring out-of-state property through a will usually means multiple probates in multiple states which translates into additional legal expenses, time, and emotional energy being sucked from those you love.
Asset protection. If you want the assets you leave for your loved ones to be protected from creditors, bankruptcy, and divorce, you want a trust. That kind of protection is a gift only you can give your loved ones. They cannot easily (or at all) set up that kind of protection for themselves.
If you would like to learn more about the use of trusts in California to pass on what you care about to the people you love, we should talk. Call us today.