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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

Are Living Trusts Only For The Rich? Gold River Trust Lawyer Debunks The Myths

February 17, 2011

Regardless of your age, it is important to have a complete California estate plan in place, especially if you have children. But if you are a newlywed, the idea of planning out what happens after you die can seem like the least of your worries – after all, you just started your new life together. As in your whole life. You have your whole life to plan this, right? Wrong.

Without trying to take away from the excitement of your recent big day, devastating accidents do happen, and life can be taken in a heartbeat. So while you’ve already got all of the daunting paperwork ahead of you to change your name, social security card and deed for the house, why not add on the undaunting task of planning your estate?

One of the best elements of a well-planned estate is a living trust. I know what you’re thinking – trusts are only for the ultra-rich, right? Wrong again. You and your new spouse might be sitting on a hand-me-down couch eating spaghetti-O’s by romantic candlelight, but that doesn’t mean that a living trust can’t help even your (self-proclaimed “measly”) assets from being properly distributed after you die.

Living trusts are different than wills in many ways, but they protect the distribution of your assets just as well if not better.

Here are just a few key reasons why a living trust can be so beneficial when planning your estate:

  • Living trusts avoid the need for the probate process. If you die leaving just a will behind (or no will at all) there are specific hearings that need to occur in probate court regarding what happens to your assets after you’re gone. These hearings can take months, and can cost money, which deducts from your estate.
  • Probate hearings and proceedings are published in the newspaper, and all records of the probate are considered public record, including a list of all your assets and the names, addresses and ages of all your heirs and beneficiaries! It might not seem important now if you don’t think you have many assets, but assets add up and later on down the road there are bound to be more (you’re not paying on those student loans for nothing, right?) and it should be the business of no one except your family what your wishes are.
  • Without a living trust in place, all of your heirs will be notified upon your death during the probate process– even those heirs who are disinherited. It’s hard to imagine the circumstances, but I’m sure you can think of someone in your life that you would not pass on any assets to, for whatever reason. Avoid them getting notification of your wishes by setting up a living trust.

Want more reasons why you should establish a living trust? Stay tuned for my next blog post in this series.  Or you can contact our Gold River estate planning office at (916) 241-9661 to schedule a free Peace of Mind Planning Session (normally $750) where we can discuss your needs in greater detail.

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My wife and I have some quite large complexities both in our individual preferences and the construct of our life. When planning for our trust, Heather took the time to hear EVERYTHING we said. The trust which Heather formed for our family took all our concerns into account. When everything was said and done, we received a trust which, by design, is extremely personal to our circumstance. We also are delighted to have Heather to be part of our team of advocates to help when the time comes.

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