Living Trusts Attorney in San Leandro, California
Documenting Your Decisions
Most People know what a Will is, but most are not familiar with a Trust.
A Will generally says who will inherit, and what, after the creator of the Will dies. Usually, it also appoints someone to carry out those wishes (the Executor). The major downside is that a Will still requires a court procedure (called “probate”) in order to carry out the wishes of the deceased. Probate can be a very costly and drawn-out process, often costing tens of thousands of dollars and taking at least 9 months to complete (it is not uncommon for it to take 2-3 years). Because of the costs and delays, most people would prefer it if their death did not require their family to go through the probate process.
A Trust can be administered without having to go to court (i.e., it “avoids probate”) and because of this, Trusts are frequently used as a substitute for a Will.
A Trust is usually created with a document that governs how the Trust will be administered (sometimes called a “trust agreement” or “declaration of trust”). In the context of estate planning, the governing document will say who is in charge of managing the trust property and who will get to use or have the trust property.
Trusts are extremely flexible and can be used to achieve a variety of different goals and outcomes, which is why they are so highly recommended by estate planning professionals. The main reasons people create trusts are to avoid probate, minimize estate taxes, provide a layer of asset protection, and/or place restrictions on inheritance (usually to prevent an inheritance from being distributed to a young beneficiary).