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Estate planning encompasses a wide range of topics, but it usually boils down to two main goals. The first goal is determining the distribution of an individual’s property after they pass away. The second is determining what should happen to an individual and their assets should they become incapacitated.

Wills and estates are legal cornerstones used to accomplish the first goal of determining how to distribute assets. At NewPoint Law Group, LLP, our experienced will and trust attorneys work with our California clients and offer them beneficial tools to achieve their estate planning goals. Call our Roseville and Sacramento wills and trust attorneys today at 800-358-0305 to schedule a legal consultation.

The Pros and Cons of Using a Will for Estate Planning in California

The most traditional way to distribute property after death is through a will. With a will, an individual can name beneficiaries, nominate executors, appoint guardians for minor children, and give instructions regarding burial or memorials.

For many people, a will is the appropriate estate planning tool. However, this could change depending on an individual’s assets and real property. Usually, a will should be used to transfer some assets, but other assets are often better to transfer outside of the will. If there is real estate that can be conveyed to a spouse as community property or to someone else through joint tenancy language in the deed, transferring the property that way is usually better than transferring it through a will. Similarly, if a significant portion of your assets consist of investments or bank accounts that can be transferred to the beneficiary outside of a will or have “pay of death” provisions, a will would not be necessary to transfer those assets, either.

The primary disadvantage to a will is that the estate is settled through the court probate process. This cumbersome legal process could cost considerable money and time. Wills also limit a married couple’s ability to avoid potentially substantial tax obligations. Additionally, while a will does allow a couple to appoint a guardian for their minor children, it restricts the ability to provide specific directions for their financial care.

Probate for Wills in Roseville and Sacramento

Probate was initially designed to ensure creditors were paid before an estate passed to the heirs. In California, probate is a Superior Court proceeding and required for estates with real property worth more than $50,000 or other assets (such as bank accounts or investments) worth more than $150,000. If a significant portion of the assets are transferred through pay-on-death accounts, this might mean you can avoid probate.

Assets that have been placed into a living trust are not considered in the probate calculation. This means that using a trust in conjunction with a will can often help save money on estate taxes and probate expenses.

Furthermore, a probate proceeding could last from nine months to over two years, depending on the property and issues involved. Our knowledgeable California will and trust attorneys will assist you in preparing for any potential difficulties that could arise during the probate of your estate.

Testamentary Trusts in Roseville and Sacramento

A testamentary trust is an estate planning instrument used to manage the assets of the deceased for the benefit of their heirs. For example, an individual might create a trust to fund their children’s education costs until a certain age or to take care of a child with disabilities after they are gone.

Three parties are usually involved in the creation of a testamentary trust:

  • The grantor, who creates the trust through provisions of their will

  • The trustee, who is appointed through the will to manage the trustee

  • The beneficiaries, who receive payments or property from the trust

To use a testamentary trust, the deceased will usually put the trust as the heir in their will. When the grantor passes away, their will must be probated to determine its authenticity. Once the probate process is completed, the executor will transfer all the bequeathed property into the trust.

Once the trust is in place, the trust will manage the assets in the trust according to the provisions provided in the documentation until it expires. The will might set forth an expiration provision, usually related to a child’s age or a certain period of time. For example, a trust could be created to fund a minor child’s education through college, and it might expire when the beneficiary graduates. While the trust is in place, the probate court will periodically examine the trustee to ensure the trust is being properly managed.

While the grantor is able to appoint anyone as trustee, the appointed individual does not have to accept the appointment. If no alternatives are listed, or if the alternative also refuses the task, the court could appoint a trustee.

A testamentary trust allows an induvial greater control over how their assets are used for the benefit of their heirs after they are gone. These trusts are especially beneficial for individuals with minor children or dependents with special needs. Additionally, as the trust does not go into effect until the grantor passes away, the terms of the trust can always be amended. Our experienced Roseville and Sacramento will and trust attorneys can assist you in drafting a will and trust that meet your financial needs and estate planning goals.

Living Trusts in Roseville and Sacramento

A living trust is an estate planning tool allowing you to bequeath your money and property to your family and loved ones after you die. A living trust is a revocable document, meaning the trust can be amended or revoked at any time. If executed by a married couple, part of a living trust could become irrevocable after one of the spouses passes away.

The living trust will define the roles of each participant, specifying the person or persons who shall serve as trustee. Furthermore, the trust will list all of the property that is in the trust along with instructions for its management. Finally, the living trust will include distribution directives for the property included in the trust at the time of the settlor’s death.

One of the significant advantages of a living trust is that it can frequently operate free of court supervision. This means you can usually avoid putting the assets in a living trust through probate, as opposed to a testamentary trust, which still passes the assets through the court. Additionally, for estates with substantial assets, living trusts are designed to reduce the estate taxes that will come out of the estate. Also, should a settler become incapacitated, the terms of the living trust will dictate that a successor trustee should manage the trust’s assets and funds. This will lessen the probability that a court would appoint someone else to manage the trust.

Finally, parents will be able to determine how their children will receive income or benefits from the trust – weekly, monthly, or in some other fashion.

Call Our Roseville and Sacramento Wills and Trusts Attorney Today

Estate planning is essential in ensuring that you have provided for your loved ones after your death. Our experienced Roseville and Sacramento will and trust attorneys will guide you through the complexities of the probate process and help you plan wills and trusts that accomplish your estate planning goals. Call the NewPoint Law Group, LLP, today at 800-358-0305 for a consultation to help you attain peace of mind that your affairs are in order.

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