Fremont wills and trusts attorneyThe last thing you want for your family is to worry about your finances and assets after you die. That is why it is so important for you to plan accordingly by creating an estate plan. Even people of modest means have an estate and multiple options to choose from to ensure that their affairs are in order when the time comes. Two popular options are wills and living trusts. Understanding the difference between the two will help you decide which one is your best option.

Wills

A will is a legally-bound written document that dictates how your property and assets will be distributed when you die. You can modify your will at any point during your lifetime, so terms are not set in stone at the time of writing them. You can use a will to name a guardian of minor children in the event of your death, decide how debts and taxes will be paid, and name an executor of your estate.

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CA probate lawyerEstate planning is at once under-discussed and an immensely valuable resource. You may have a will or have at least contemplated the importance of drafting one. But have you considered the additional, similarly important question of how the intentions embodied in your will are to be realized once it has been put into effect by your passing? You don’t simply provide your loved ones with instructions as to the will’s location, or expect them to read and comply with it on their own, after all. The answer to the question is what is known as probate and estate administration. Whether you die with or without a will, probate is necessary to administer your estate. The purpose of this article is to explain the basics of probate and estate administration.

Probate Begins with Notification

An estate most always contains not just assets, but liabilities. As such, estate administration concerns with the distribution of assets and the resolution of debts. In order for these two prongs to be addressed, all interested parties must be notified of your passing and timeline of your estate’s administration. It is through this protest of notification that probate commences. Just as you take care to ensure that your will is drafted in accordance with all applicable formalities and is thereby valid, it is wise to do the same with regard the oversight of all stages of the probate and administration processes.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_337113344.jpgA will is an invaluable resource in ensuring that the assets that comprise your estate will go to the individuals and institutions you wish to benefit after your passing. If there is no will, California’s default rules – the laws of intestate succession – will determine what individuals (family members of increasing remoteness) and will inherit your estate and in what proportions they will inherit.

In some instances, it may be preferable to rely on intestate succession, thereby avoiding the cost and delay of probating a will in probate court. For many people, however, a will brings both precision and peace of mind in the distribution of wealth, property, and heirlooms after death. A will is powerful and a flexible estate planning instrument that is capable of even regulating many distributions over a long time in lieu of a one-time bulk sum. The intra-will device that allows for this is what is known as a “testamentary trust.” If you have young children or relatives, a testamentary trust is something well-worth considering as work in consultation with an estate planning attorney to draft your will.

Planning for the Future of Young Children with a Testamentary Trust

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1025098705.jpgIt is already so difficult to lose a loved one. When, after the grieving, remembrances, and respects paid, the loved one’s will does not seem to square with his or her stated intentions and wishes with regard to the probate estate, the sense of loss is joined by one of grievance and injustice. While some wills and trusts, though surprising in their dispensation of assets, are perfectly valid, others may be rightly contested on legal grounds for lacking validity. The purpose of this article is to set out the reasons which may render a will invalid upon formal contest in California.

 

Seven Reasons to Contest a Will in California

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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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Willett Law Firm

39300 Civic Center Drive, Suite 310
Fremont, CA 94538

Phone: 510-791-2244

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