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Trusts provide privacy and do not require probate

Trusts can support many estate planning goals for people in California. A trust creates a legal entity that can accept ownership of various assets that a person chooses to transfer into it. Significant advantages provided by trusts include the private transfer of wealth and avoidance of the public probate process.

Probate courts review wills, and they also review the estate left behind by people who did not make a will. The court will apply state laws to determine who should inherit assets in the absence of a will. For people with no children or few close living relatives, a probate court might identify distant relatives and inform them about the estate. These people might choose to challenge a will or pursue a claim upon assets not addressed by an estate plan.

Trusts prevent undesirable outcomes that might arise from a probate review. While someone is alive, that person can shift assets into a trust and run the trust or choose a trustee to handle affairs. Upon a person's death, a successor trustee will take over. Because managing a trust requires compliance with the law and financial record keeping, a trustee needs to have the time and skill to take care of these responsibilities. A person can select a trusted friend or relative to assume this role or outsource it to a professional entity like a bank, trust company or accountant.

When a person decides to make an estate plan, an attorney could inform the person about state and federal estate laws and taxes. A legal review of finances could reveal strategies that help a person evaluate options for passing on an estate. Advice about trusts and trust administration might increase someone's understanding of the expenses related to trusts. An attorney could also write the trust's terms so that they address a person concerns and final wishes.

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