Santa Monica Living Trust Attorneys
Wealth Management Through a Living Trust
In lieu of preparing a will, a common estate planning instrument is the revocable or "Living" Trust.
A Living Trust takes effect while the party is alive and is customarily revocable, meaning that it can be revised, cancelled or changed during the lifetime of the trustor. Once the trustor dies, it becomes irrevocable and assets are distributed according to the terms.
Individuals commonly use Living Trusts in order to avoid having the estate go through probate. In the case of married couples, they can create a living trust to handle both their individual and joint estates. For married couples Living Trusts can also provide the benefit of reducing and/or minimizing "death" (estate) taxes.
The attorneys at Cooper-Gordon LLP have prepared many Living Trusts during their more than 30 years of practice. We are available to consult with you regarding whether or not a Living Trust would be an appropriate testamentary instrument for you and to better explain this process. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation with a Santa Monica Living Trust attorney.
Advantages of a Living Trust
One the most significant advantages of a Living Trust is that it can be designed to manage your assets for you in the event you become disabled or incapacitated. While other estate planning tools, such as the durable power of attorney, can be used to provide wealth management in the event of a disability, none is more flexible than the Living Trust.
Others use a Living Trust for current management of their wealth, even though they are in perfect health. This would include persons who have no experience handling money and those who simply lack the time to manage it. For example, a person who has just received a significant inheritance could create a Living Trust and name a bank or a trusted advisor as the trustee. The trustee would then invest the assets for the beneficiary's benefit and generally handle all of his or her financial affairs. The trustee is governed by certain well-settled legal principles, which require the trustee to exercise a high degree of care in managing the trustor's funds.
Another reason to consider the Living Trust is if you own real estate in different states. If a California resident also owns real estate in Florida, then upon his death it will be necessary to conduct estate settlement proceedings in both states. If, however, the Florida real estate was previously transferred to a Living Trust, the estate administration in Florida can be avoided.
Living Trusts are also suggested if a will contest appears likely. It is difficult to successfully challenge a will and trust. However, the trust provides a stiffer barrier.
Alternatives to the Living Trust
Despite clear advantages and benefits, the Living Trust is not a perfect estate planning tool for everyone. Sometimes other strategies provide the same benefits with less cost.
Preparation of a simple will with additional documents such as:
- General Power of Attorney: A power of attorney is more than a simple form. Everyone's financial circumstances and family situations are different, and one should consider these differences carefully before drafting a general power of attorney.
- Health Care Directives: These are great tools for managing one's medical needs when one is unable to do so for oneself. All our clients receive a health care directive as part of our services.
You should talk with your attorney about the various options so that your general power of attorney and health care directive are crafted to meet your specific needs.
For a consultation with a Santa Monica estate planning lawyer at Cooper-Gordon LLP, call us at 800-561-6322, or contact us online. We offer initial consultations at a reduced rate.