Will and Trust Assistance in the Conejo Valley
An important part of estate planning is deciding who will receive your assets once you pass away. Asset distribution after you pass away is facilitated by your will, trusts, or a combination of the two.
At the Law Offices of Kent W. Keating, we help our clients use estate planning tools that will work to protect and efficiently transfer assets to their chosen beneficiaries. Our Thousand Oaks will and trust lawyer has over 35 years of experience and understands how to strategically structure complex tools. We are committed to providing personalized advocacy, and you will have the full attention of our firm's attorney, who will work closely with you to develop and implement a customized plan. Our firm can also help you make changes to your will or trust as your circumstances evolve.
The Difference Between Wills and Trusts in California
Both wills and trusts can help you transfer assets to chosen beneficiaries after you pass away, a will has several notable shortcomings. While your will should in most cases form the foundation of your estate plan, it is often in your best interest to also consider a revocable living trust.
Your will allows you to:
- Designate who will receive your assets
- Name a guardian to take care of your minor children
- Name an executor who will oversee probate and manage estate administration
However, some of the fundamental disadvantages to your will include:
- Your will is public. The complete contents of your will become public once they are entered in court. This means anyone can see what was in your estate and who received your assets.
- Your will is subject to probate. Anything named in your will cannot be immediately transferred to your beneficiaries upon your death. The probate process must be completed before any assets are dispersed.
- Your will can be easily contested. Any interested party can contest your will, which will significantly delay the probate process.
Revocable living trusts offer solutions to these problems. When you create a revocable living trust, you appoint a trustee to oversee trust assets for your beneficiaries. You can elect to serve as your own trustee until you become incapacitated or pass away, at which point a chosen “successor trustee” steps in. Revocable living trusts are modifiable throughout your lifetime, so you retain control of your property.
Some advantages to revocable living trusts include:
- Trusts are private. Unlike your will, the language and contents of your trust will not become public and will only be known to the relevant parties.
- Trust assets are not subject to probate. Trusts can be used to legally avoid probate, as assets placed in them can typically be transferred to beneficiaries without any court involvement.
- Trusts can be tougher to contest. It will be much more difficult to challenge a well-structured trust, giving your planned inheritances some added security.
- Trusts are highly durable and customizable. You can tailor your trust to your specific estate planning goals. For example, you may choose to use trust asset dispersions to provide for your children over many years versus giving them a lump sum when you pass away.
The formation and administration of living trusts has become a crucial part of estate planning law. California courts are overwhelmed with cases and simply do not have the resources to efficiently handle the myriad of estate, probate, and will contest cases stemming from a growing number of senior citizens.
Creating a revocable living trust is a relatively simple process that can offer enhanced preservation and accelerated distribution of your assets to your heirs. Our Thousand Oaks will and trust attorney can review your specific goals and walk you through how a trust may be able to accomplish them.
Should I Create a Will or a Trust in California?
Every adult should have a will, no matter the scope of their estate, particularly if they are a parent. Only a will allows you to name a guardian for your minor child, and it is important you name an executor of your choosing who will work to protect your estate's interests during estate administration.
The costs, logistics, and risks of delays that inevitably come with probate also make it a good idea to create a revocable living trust. At the Law Offices of Kent W. Keating, we often prepare wills in conjunction with a revocable living trust. This minimizes the role of probate while ensuring you enjoy the benefits of both tools.
No matter where you are in the estate planning process, our Thousand Oaks will and trust lawyer can help you draft these critical documents. We can also review and update an existing trust that was prepared by another attorney.