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How a living trust can benefit Californians

Many California estate planning attorneys recommend that their clients set up living trusts. There are a number of advantages for your heirs if you place your assets in this type of trust while you're still alive.

  • They help keep your estate out of probate -- a process that can be costly and time-consuming for your heirs. By avoiding probate, you also keep your estate private, since when an estate is in probate, information on it can be accessible to the public.
  • A living trust makes it easier for your designated power of attorney to deal with your financial obligations if you become incapacitated than if you don't have one.
  • If you have a living trust, you may not need a will. In some cases, however, estate planning attorneys will advise having what's called a "pour-over will" to encompass any assets you may have neglected to include in the living trust.

If you have a relatively small amount of assets, there may be other ways for you to help your loved ones avoid probate than having a living will. Sometimes, however, people don't realize just how much they have until they add up their property, retirement accounts, investments and other assets. The median value of a home here in Los Angeles is over $650,000.

When you sit down with your California estate planning attorney to discuss your wishes, both for after you die and if you become incapacitated, he or she will advise you of the best way to codify those in your estate plan. This will give you peace of mind that you've made things easier for your loved ones.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Why setting up a living trust may be wise, especially in California," Liz Weston, Jan. 07, 2018

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