A living trust is a written legal document that partially substitutes for a will. With a living trust, your assets are put into a trust, administered for your benefit during your lifetime, and then transferred to your beneficiaries when you die. The trust itself is completely revocable during your lifetime, and only becomes irrevocable when you die.
Most people name themselves as the trustee in charge of managing their trust’s assets. This way, even though your assets have been put into the trust, you can remain in control of your assets during your lifetime. You can also name a successor trustee who will manage the trust’s assets if you ever become unable or unwilling to do so yourself.
A living trust will help you:
- Avoid probate;
- Lower estate administration fees;
- Speed the transfer of your assets to your beneficiaries;
- Protect your beneficiaries, especially when they are young, or if they are disabled or otherwise unable to manage their own assets;
- Minimize federal and state estate taxes;
- Offer prtection against creditors of beneficiaries;
- Protect your privacy – unlike a will, a trust is confidential and not a public document.
A living trust can be an important part — and in many cases, the most important part — of your estate plan. For more detailed information on estate planning, contact the attorneys at Goodman & Dicus LLP.
What is an advanced healtcare directive?
An advance health care directive is a document that allows your attorney-in-fact to make health care decisions for you when you can no longer make them for yourself.
Most importantly, in your advance health care directive, you may state your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment, organ donation and funeral arrangements. A health care directive also allows an authorized agent to access your medical information, which could be important in light of strengthened federal privacy laws.
What about a Will?
A will is a document that tells a person’s family, heirs and/or the courts how to distribute his or her money and property. A will is a basic estate planning tool, and a current and valid will is the best way to make sure your property is distributed according to your wishes. Many people also use trusts in conjunction with their will. If you have a living trust, your will would typically contain a pour over provision. Such a provision simply states that all such assets should be transferred to the trustee of your living trust after your death. (This does not mean, however, that your beneficiaries can avoid going through probate for these assets.)
Whether you want to prepare your first will or you are interested in updating your estate plan or exploring trusts, the estate planning attorneys at Goodman & Dicus LLP in Orange can help you tailor an estate plan to your needs.
Because the law, your financial circumstances, your family circumstances, and your objectives change over time, you should review and update your will with our estate planning attorneys periodically. Many wills do not automatically take into account events that occur after the will was drafted, including divorces and remarriages, births, and the deaths of named beneficiaries.