First, one of the biggest advantages of creating a living trust is avoiding probate court. Administering a will or trust through probate court takes time and money. A living trust is a great estate planning vehicle because it can keep the entire administration process court-free. When the settlor of the trust passes away, the terms of the trust dictate how the estate should be administered. In turn, probate court is avoided.
Second, make sure that the successor trustee is someone who is capable of administering the trust. Often times, the oldest child is chosen to be the successor trustee. However, the oldest child is not always the right choice. A successful administration requires a trustee who is organized, diligent, and capable of administering the trust. It is also beneficial to have someone with an understanding of accounting. If your oldest child does not have any of these characteristics, consider appointing another child, relative, or friend. If no one you know is capable of administering the estate, you may have to hire a third party. There are a number of trust companies and banks that administer trusts. The biggest concern about hiring a third party is the administration fees, which can be substantial. If your estate can handle the fees, a third party may be the right choice for you. Lastly, a trust will never fail for lack of a trustee. If the elected trustee refuses, another one will be appointed.
Finally, creating a trust avoids California’s intestacy laws. A state’s intestacy laws provide the default estate plan for those who die without a will. In California, the beneficiary of a decedent’s estate depends on whether the property was community property or separate property. Assuming that decedent was married and had community property, the surviving spouse’s intestate share is the decedent’s one-half share of the community property. On the other hand, if the decedent’s property was separate property, the intestate share of the surviving spouse depends on how many children the decedent had, if any. While it is important to know a state’s intestacy laws, they should be avoided at all cost. Thus, creating a trust is a way to avoid intestate succession and have your estate administered the way you want it.
If you are interested in creating a living trust or have any questions regarding your current estate plan, please contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri for further information. The attorneys at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri have decades of experience handling complex estate planning matters, and we are happy to offer you a free consultation. Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results. While this post may detail general legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.
California Probate Codes § 6400-6414.