Living trusts and wills are estate planning tools that California residents can use to determine how their assets are managed and distributed whilst alive as well as after passing on. While you can choose one tool over the other, or use both, it is important that you understand the difference between a will and a living trust. This will help you decide the best estate planning tool for your situation in California.
How wills work in California
A will serves two purposes in California. First, it identifies how and to whom a probate asset should go to upon your demise. Generally, probate assets are assets that must pass through a will. They include assets you own in your name without joint ownership or any designated beneficiaries. Second, a will serves to identify your estate’s executor. This is the individual who will be responsible for administering and settling your estate based on your wishes and in adherence to California law.
How living trusts work in California
Some California residents choose to establish a revocable living trust rather than a will. While a will simply outlines how your estate will be transferred upon your death, a living trust determines how your estate is managed whilst you are alive. A properly drafted living trust will make the process of administering your estate much simpler while avoiding the need for a lengthy and costly probate process. Through a trust, you can assign someone to manage your estate should you become incapacitated. Finally, a living trust can also be used to manage your estate upon your death.
So which estate planning tool is right for you in California?
A number of factors come into play when choosing the right estate planning tool for your situation. These include the size of your estate, types of assets in question, as well as your goals and wishes on how the estate should be transferred to designated beneficiaries.
A properly drafted estate plan can secure your future, protect assets, and save your loved ones from conflicts and unnecessary court interventions. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you plan ahead to protect yourself, family, and estate from unhealthy conflicts over your hard-earned wealth both in life and in death.