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California Estate Planning: How Trusts Can Save You Time, Energy, Stress & Money

UPDATED: January 6, 2020

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Why should someone create a trust? According to Vincent J. Russo, a California attorney whose practice consists of estate planning and probate litigation, the main reason to create a trust is that it seamlessly passes your property to the intended beneficiary without court supervision and the cost associated with court supervision - such as your time, energy, stress and money.

The benefits of creating a trust

There are many benefits to creating a trust in addition to avoiding court supervision. These may include:

  • Managing your assets. Trusts may allow you to better manage your assets both during your lifetime and afterwards.
  • Accomplishing objectives. Trusts may be designed to accomplish a grantor's objectives such as providing assets for spouses, children, disabled persons or charities.
  • Reaping tax benefits. Trusts may allow for substantial estate tax savings.
  • Shielding assets. Trusts may allow you to shield certain assets from taxes.

Who can serve as a trustee?

He says that while anyone can serve as a trustee, if the person has a criminal background and somebody is making claims later, it can definitely become an issue. He explained:

You can actually file a petition for removal of the trustee and an appointment of a successor trustee based on certain statutory grounds to remove a trustee such as he or she is using trust assets for themselves, not doing what the trustee's duties are required of them and things of that nature. Generally speaking, when people create an intro vivos trust, a revocable living trust, that person names themselves as trustee until they die and then what happens is they will have a list and there will likely be two or three people on the list. The first on the list is usually the person that creator trusted the most, such as a family member. It's almost like a laundry list.

He provided the following example, "Let's say I put John as trustee number one, Joe as trustee number two and Steve as trustee number three. As trustee number one, John is in charge. However, in the event that John is unable to do it or doesn't want to do it for any reason, then we go to Joe. If Joe can't do it or doesn't want to do it, then we will go to Steve."

Estate planning, which includes wills, trusts, health care directives and probate issues, is a complicated area of the law. Click here if you would like to speak with an experienced California trust lawyer about your situation.

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