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Why should you have a living trust?

It's often a wise idea for Californians to set up a living trust when they do their estate planning. This type of trust (also called an "inter vivos" trust) can make matters considerably easier on heirs after you pass away, and prevent them from having to go through probate proceedings, which can be lengthy and costly.

Upon the death of someone with a living trust, the ownership of all assets included in the trust transfers to the beneficiary he or she has designated. Many people include their bank accounts and homes in their trusts. Your California family law attorney will provide guidance on retitling these items so that they're part of the trust.

Of course, people can continue to add to or remove items from the trust throughout their lifetimes. Having an asset included in a living trust doesn't impact your ability to use it.

A living trust can also reduce estate taxes, particularly if numerous valuable assets are included or for married people with children. Your attorney can help you structure the trust in a way that will best help reduce taxes paid by those who inherit your estate.

One of the key advantages of estate planning in general, including the creation of a living trust, is that it allows people to designate where they want their assets to go after they're no longer here. Estate planning also lets people designate who will speak for them regarding medical and financial issues if they become incapacitated and unable to speak for themselves. By detailing your wishes while you're alive and well, you can save loved ones a great deal of conflict and stress later on.

Source: FindLaw, "Living Trust Information," accessed March 15, 2017

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