Although readers may be familiar with the advice of using a revocable trust to avoid the months of delay caused by a probate proceeding, they may not have realized the amount of legal fees also at stake. In California, probate legal fees are set by statute, starting at four percent for the first $100,000. Estates less than $150,000 may be able to avoid probate with a small estate declaration made pursuant to the state’s probate code. Otherwise, the prospect of probate will be costly and time-consuming.
However, when used in conjunction with other estate-planning instruments, a will can still accomplish important tasks. For starters, any assets not specifically transferred to a trust can be handled with a pour-over will. That device will direct any leftover assets to be transferred to the trust upon the testator’s passing.
A will can also name a guardian. This is an important benefit for individuals who have minor children, as many states do not allow a minor to inherit property without some supervision. A guardian can manage assets until children reach age 18.
Finally, keep in mind that a will can work in conjunction with one or more trusts. Trusts can accomplish a variety of objectives, and revocable trusts offer the additional benefit of flexibility and modification during an individual’s lifetime. Our website lists several examples of the many different types of trusts available in estate planning, including minors’ trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, and dynasty trusts. With an attorney’s help, an individual can choose a legal instrument that will accomplish his or her objectives.
Source: Wealth Management, “Key Considerations When Preparing Your Will,” Aug. 18, 2015