Wills and trusts are common terms when discussing estate planning in California. The differences are not always clearly understood. Where a will can transfer assets only after one's passing, a trust can do more.
A will allows one to designate the disbursement of assets in one's own name after one passes. A trust goes further and can allow for control of one's affairs while one is still living in the event of physical or mental incapacity. Having a trust can eliminate the need for a will as instructions in a trust can be very detailed as to one's final wishes where property and asset distribution are concerned. A trust can also eliminate the need for probate, which can be very expensive. Avoiding probate can also keep the proceedings private as probate is a public process.
A trust may include specific instructions regarding end of life decisions including instructions to be followed in the event of a catastrophic illness or injury. This can save one's loved ones from the pain of making very difficult decisions at a very difficult time. Granting someone power of attorney for health and financial matters further assures that one's final wishes will be carried out as intended.
Contemplating one's death is not a pleasant or eagerly anticipated task. However death is one of the few things in this life that is certain. Specifying one's wishes on how to transfer assets and regarding end-of-life health decisions can make an otherwise difficult time easier for those left behind. An experienced estate planning attorney in California can review a person's estate and family situation and help craft a trust and/or a will that meet a person's needs and wishes.