Harnessing The Power Of Trusts In Your Estate Plan
Many people believe that a will is the cornerstone of any estate plan. In some ways, that’s true – it is a very important document. But just as important is a legal tool that too few people take advantage of: trusts.
When you contact Rudy Aguirre Professional Law Corp to discuss your estate planning needs, we can help you determine if a trust is appropriate for your estate plan, and if so, what kind of trust would best meet your needs.
How A Trust Differs From A Will
At its core, a will is a list of your wishes written down on paper. It tells the court and your executor which assets you’d like to give to which heirs. It gives basic distribution instructions and it is a public record.
A trust is more like a bank account. When you put assets into a trust, you are actually transferring ownership of those assets to the trust itself. This achieves several important goals:
- It ensures that the assets can be distributed according to your instructions
- It (usually) removes those assets from your estate, lowering the taxable value of the estate
- It keeps those assets out of probate, which either greatly simplifies the process or reduces the need for it
- It keeps those assets private – anything that is part of probate is made public
- It allows you to customize how and when the assets will be distributed to beneficiaries
In short, using one or more trusts creates a direct link between the assets and your intended heirs, simplifies the estate administration/probate process and can reduce estate tax liabilities.
Which Trust Is Right For You?
A trust can and should be highly customizable to be meet your needs. Common options include:
- Revocable (living) trusts: These can be revoked or changed at any time during the life of the creator and original trustee (you). Once you pass away or become incapacitated, the trust becomes irrevocable.
- Irrevocable trusts: These can not be revoked, altered or amended. This ensures that their terms are carried out.
- Joint trusts: These are funded with marital assets and created by spouses. Because California is a community property state, in which assets acquired during the marriage are considered equally owned by both spouses, joint trusts are more common here than in some other states.
- Special-needs trusts: These provide ongoing funding for long-term care for a loved one with special needs. By putting the funds in a trust, they can be managed by a responsible trustee and distributed over the course of the beneficiary’s lifetime. Because the beneficiary doesn’t own the funds directly, he or she may also remain eligible for additional government assistance.
These are just some of the many options we can discuss during your initial consultation.
Contact Us Today To Learn More
Rudy Aguirre Professional Law Corp is based in San Marino, and we proudly serve clients throughout the Los Angeles metro and other parts of Southern California. To learn more about trusts and other estate planning tools, call our office at 626-658-4952. You can also fill out our online contact form.