b2ap3_thumbnail_Untitled-design-37.jpgToo many individuals associate estate planning with death and in doing so turn away from what is truly valuable instrument of asset protection and financial management. A great place to begin learning about and utilizing estate planning is what is known as a “living trust.” This estate planning resource can allow you to both protect assets from taxation and entanglement in government programs and transfer your estate to your loved ones when the time is right and through a mechanism that bypasses the time and expense of probate. To begin benefiting from estate planning, whether through a living trust, will, or other resource, rely on an experienced Fremont estate planning attorney.

Asset Protection is One Function of a Living Trust

Unlike a will, which becomes effective only upon your death, a living trust is effective while you are living (thus the name “living trust”). For many, a primary reason to create a living trust is to protect assets from taxes and government health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. This form of lawful asset protection is accomplished when legal title is transferred from you (the “Grantor”) to a “trustee.” The trustee holds the assets in trust for those who have selected to benefit from them (the “beneficiaries”).  Importantly, the law even allows for you to be the trustee of your own living trust, which allows you to retain full control of the assets held in the trust. While you are living, whether as both grantor and trustee or merely grantor, the transfer of title from yourself as an individual to a separate trustee or to yourself as trustee facilitates the protection of trust assets from taxes and government health care programs like Medicaid and Medicare. Such asset protection, naturally, allows you to bequeath more to your loved ones and other intended beneficiaries at the time of your death.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_632562152.jpgIf you have saved money and acquired assets, you likely know firsthand the work it takes to do so. To make that work matter as much as it can for as long as it can, you need to engage in intelligent, active estate planning. Broadly speaking, wills and trusts are the core components of estate planning, with your will taking effect upon your death and a trust taking place, depending on its type, before or after your death. A living trust, which can go into effect during your lifetime, may be designed to protect assets from taxation and government healthcare programs such as Medicaid and Medicare—thus allowing you to better protect assets for future generations. To create a living trust in California, contact an experienced Fremont estate planning attorney.

A Revocable Living Trust May Be Altered During Your Lifetime

There are two types of living trusts: 1) a revocable living trust, and 2) an irrevocable living trust. With regard to each, if you are the designer of the trust (i.e. the protector of the assets), the legal term for your role is “grantor.” As the grantor of a revocable living trust, you have the power of revocation (another legal term, for change or alteration). The power of revocation allows you, even after creating the trust and filling it with initial assets, to change the trust’s beneficiaries (those you intend to benefit from the assets of the trust) as well as add or remove assets at your discretion. As such, the flexibility inherent in a revocable living trust functions as a tool of asset management to be utilized while you are alive—looking out for the best interests of family and other loved ones in real time as life happens.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Untitled-design-8.jpgIt can be traumatic when the loss of a loved one is coupled with shock and surprise over a will that descends the contents of an estate in a way that appears inconsistent with the intentions of the deceased testator. If this scenario has taken the unfortunate turn from hypothetical to real in the wake of the loss of your parent, spouse, child, or other close relative, you may have the option to formally contest the validity of the will in question. In doing so, work closely with an experienced Fremont wills and trusts attorney.

A Will Must Comply With Applicable State Laws to be Valid

Wills and trusts are serious business. As such, a will must comply with all formalities imposed by state law in order to be regarded as valid. For example, the will must be signed by the person whose estate it concerns (the “Testator”). In addition, the Testator’s signing of the will occur in the presence and hearing of two valid witnesses. In most cases, in order to be a valid witness of a will, one must not be a beneficiary of the will. 

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Fremont wills and trusts lawyerEstate planning is a highly personalized process, so no two estate plans are the same. For example, one person may benefit more from a simple will. The other may need a more comprehensive plan, complete with a living trust and other important documents. How do you decide which option is right for you? The following information explains, and it provides details on where to find assistance with your California living trust or will.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Estate Planning Documents

Any estate plan – even a poorly created one – is better than none. However, there are several reasons why it is important to ensure you have chosen the right documents. First, improper estate planning can complicate matters for your heirs, and it could cost them both time and money. Poor planning can also increase the risk of a family feud. In contrast, careful planning can mitigate against the risk of probate and decrease the risk of contention among family members. It can even decrease the amount of time, money, and energy that heirs must expend while trying to obtain their inheritance – so do not just give the gift of money and assets; give your family the gift of a carefully thought-out estate plan as well.

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Fremont wills and trusts lawyerWhile both men and women are encouraged to have an estate plan in place, the two often have distinctly different needs. Much of this is due to life expectancy, but there are several other factors, such as limited work history, that may impact a woman’s financial portfolio or estate. Learn more about the unique estate planning needs of women, and discover how an experienced wills and trusts lawyer can help with your estate planning needs.

Why Women’s Estate Planning Needs Are Unique

Although women of today are the primary breadwinners about as often as men are, things were not always this way. Instead, women of the past usually stayed home and cared for their children, once they were born, and those that did work may not have received fair pay or benefits. Most also experienced a disruption in their work history during their childbearing years, which may have reduced their nest egg (if they even managed to save for one).

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Willett Law Firm

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Fremont, CA 94538

Phone: 510-791-2244

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