IN REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA
According to the website Caring.com, the pandemic has played a large role in people’s understanding of the importance of estate planning, especially among younger persons (between 18 and 34 years of age). In 2020, 16.4% of people in that age group said that they had one or more estate planning documents in place. In 2021, the number has already risen to 26.8%.
Unfortunately, percentages for other age groups have remained both static and low. Even with the pandemic, only 32.9% of all Americans have even a will in place. In other words, two-thirds of Americans have yet to plan for the future.
You can never be too young or too old to secure the future for you and your loved ones through proper estate planning, but you can be too late if incapacitation or other unseen events make planning impossible — or suddenly irrelevant.
If you’re in or around Redlands, California, or nearby in Palm Springs, Rancho Cucamonga, or Riverside, the team of estate planning attorneys at The Elder & Disability Law Firm, APC, stands ready to help you plan for the future. Reach out today for a consultation to get started.
WILLS VS. TRUSTS
A last will and testament, generally referred to as a will, is the basic building block of estate planning, but you shouldn’t stop there. A will — or worse, if you die without a will — requires all your assets and property to go through probate court to be distributed to your heirs. The process can take a minimum of seven months in San Bernardino County, and that’s only if no hitches or challenges arise.
On the other hand, a living trust — also known as a revocable trust — can accomplish the same distribution of assets as a will but without probate proceedings. Additionally, while wills become public documents, trusts do not.
In a will, you name a personal representative who becomes the executor of your stated desires in probate court after you pass away. In a trust, you name a trustee who will do the same for you but without the supervision and legal hassles of probate court. The trustee you name will take over management of your assets only if you become incapacitated or pass away. Until that time, you own and manage your assets and property yourself.
Revocable or living trusts can be modified at any time or even revoked, discarded, or rewritten. Because of their flexibility, living trusts are the preferred document for most people’s estate planning needs.
In some cases, however, an irrevocable trust may be applicable, usually for high-income and asset-rich individuals. Irrevocable trusts are generally used to shield assets against estate taxes, lawsuits, claims of creditors or beneficiaries, and even Medi-Cal, but the catch is you must immediately transfer control of your assets to the named trustee. If you owe personal debts when you set up your irrevocable trust and you enter into bankruptcy, those debts may be reverted to you personally by the court.
OTHER TYPES OF TRUSTS
California recognizes various other types of trusts. A charitable trust distributes assets to charities, which can help estates subject to federal estate taxes. A life insurance trust can also help reduce estate taxes.
A marital trust is established between spouses. When one spouse dies, assets pass to the trust with the surviving spouse as the trustee. When that spouse dies, the named beneficiaries receive their allotted distributions.
A spendthrift trust assigns assets to a beneficiary but withholds full access to the trust principal. A trustee will control the assets and generally provide periodic funds to the beneficiary, or distribute funds when needed for goods or services authorized by the trust.
RELY ON SKILLED
A living trust can do so much more than a will while remaining private and not subject to probate court proceedings. It can give you peace of mind should you become incapacitated, knowing that someone you trust will be overseeing your assets and ensuring that your wishes for your family and loved ones are being met.
Depending on your income, assets, and other special circumstances, trust instruments beyond the revocable trust may come into play. Your attorney can meet with you, discuss your unique circumstances, and advise you of all the best options available.
TRUST ATTORNEYS SERVING REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA
If you are looking into estate planning and need guidance on what tools may be best for you, contact the attorneys at The Elder & Disability Law Firm, APC. The team can explain the options available to you, including wills, trusts, and other documents. The Elder & Disability Law Firm, APC proudly serves clients in Redlands, Palm Springs, Rancho Cucamonga, and Riverside, California.