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Creating a Living Trust in California

Living trusts are an important part of estate planning. A living trust allows a person to put their property under the control of a trustee, who holds legal title to the property on behalf of another person called a beneficiary. The person setting up the trust can be the trustee if they choose. It is known as a living trust because you create it while you are still alive. The main advantage of a living trust is that it allows your estate to avoid probate upon your death. Probate can be an expensive and complicated process that can take a long time. Note that if you create a living trust, you can make it revocable, allowing you the choice to change or terminate it at any time before you die.

Some people are in a position where they need a living trust more than others. For example, if a couple is married with no children, and they wish to be each other’s sole heirs, then they in all likelihood do not require a living trust. However, if the same couple has children, they should have a living trust to pass their estate on to their children in a simpler manner. In addition, in California, if your estate is under $150,000, then you will not need to have a living trust to save on probate; state law allows for a simplified probate for estates of this size or less.

How to Create a Living Trust Without an Attorney

Creating a living trust is in most cases uncomplicated if you have few assets and are not providing for guardianship of minor children. It may simply require you to be thorough with listing your property and in selecting your trustee. Once you have an inventory of your assets, you can then create the trust document.

The trust document is a legal document that specifies the exact property to be held in trust, the trustee appointed, and the beneficiary. This is the document that would control the trust and be relied on in interpreting any issues with regards to the trust. Therefore it is important to make sure that it conforms to legal requirements. If you would like assistance creating or reviewing your trust document, you can contact A People’s Choice for high quality non-attorney assistance. We can help you create a trust document that is simple yet legally adequate to set up your living trust.

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After you have created the trust document specifying a person to be the trustee, you have to sign it in front of a notary public. You will then transfer the legal title to the trust property to that person to hold for the benefit of the beneficiary. This legal transfer is important or the trustee has no power. You should also designate a successor trustee who takes over from the trustee in case of death or incapacity.

It is still a good idea to have a will drawn up even if you have created a valid living trust. You can have a provision in the will that allows for any property that is not specifically provided for in the trust document to be transferred to the trust upon your death. This would also make for easier estate planning.

By |2018-04-15T18:51:19+00:00May 9th, 2014|Estate Planning|0 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.

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