San Francisco Bay Area Living Trust Attorney
The what & why of living trusts
In the Bay Area, the core of most estate plans is what is colloquially referred to as a “living trust.” In attorney speak, this estate planning device is known as a “revocable inter vivos (during life) trust.” But what is a living trust, and why is it important to have a living trust in the Bay Area?
What is a living trust?
A living trust is at its core a contract. But it is a contract that creates a sort of quasi-entity that becomes a legal entity when the creator of the trust passes away. It is called a “living” trust because it is created by someone while they are alive, and it is called “revocable” because the creator (also known as the “settlor”) retains the right to revoke it at any time as long as they are alive and mentally competent.
Because of this revocability feature, it is not a legal entity distinct from the creator until they die (rendering the trust now “irrevocable”). When the settlor dies, the trust now has its own tax identification number and a named successor trustee takes over management of the trust to carry out the purpose described in the trust (usually to gather and distribute the assets in a timely fashion to named beneficiaries).
Why have a living trust?
So why do we need to put our property into a living trust? One word – probate.
By setting up a living trust to hold our assets our heirs do not have to go through the mind bending judicial process of California probate. Probate is the court administration of a person’s estate after they pass away.
It is a very costly and lengthy process, not to mention confusing and on the public record. Probate is triggered if a person dies with more than one hundred and fifty thousand dollars outside of a trust, regardless of if they have a will or not.
By setting up a living trust and naming a successor trustee, we can choose an individual to administer our estate in lieu of the Bay Area probate court. By doing this we save vast amounts of time, money, and frustration for our heirs while keeping our affairs private.
Don’t know how to proceed?
That’s why I’m here. I specialize in living trusts and work with clients throughout the entire Bay Area. If you need help setting up a living trust, particularly if you have a unique situation or are overwhelmed by a complex or large estate in the Bay Area, I can help you sort out any questions. Please don’t hesitate to give me a call to request a free, complimentary consultation.
I wasn’t looking forward to establishing an Estate Plan, however, after purchasing a home I knew I needed to. Dan guided me through the estate plan process with knowledge and professionalism. His level of expertise, responsiveness, and flexibility provided a streamlined, seamless experience. I highly recommend the Law Office of Daniel L. DuRee.”
– Posted by Dana, an Estate Planning client