A legal trust is similar to a will – it's a written legal document and it partially substitutes for a will and can be an important part of your estate plan. Your assets are put into the trust during your lifetime and then transferred to your beneficiaries when you die. You can make yourself the trustee so you can manage your assets during your lifetime and you can name a successor who will manage the trust if you ever become unable to do it yourself. A living trust instructs the trustee on how to manage the assets to your benefit and names the beneficiaries who will receive the assets once you die.
There are various benefits to a living trust. Aside from ensuring your assets are managed according to your wishes upon your death, assets in a living trust are not subject to probate which can be a long process. Probate can become expensive and a burden on your loved ones left behind.
So who needs a living trust?
A living trust is most commonly used for people who have complicated estate plans and no large amount of significant assets. For example, most young married couples without significant assets and no children and intent to leave assets to each other would not benefit from a living trust. As a general rule of thumb, the greater your assets, the greater the need for a living trust – it could be important in the event of a sudden accident or illness.
If you think you may benefit from a living trust, be sure to contact Catanese & Wells, a top California Probate Attorney.