Estate planning is becoming widely recognized as a necessary step to take in protecting one’s assets in California. There’s a vocabulary that goes along with it and some find it a bit confusing. Two of the primary terms are wills and trusts. To make the best use of these tools, one should understand the role that each of these documents can play.
A will can serve as a means to distribute assets owned by the testator following that person’s death. A will is subject to the process of probate while a trust typically is not. Probate is the legal process that a will is subject to. Probate can be expensive and time-consuming, delaying the distribution of assets as laid out in the will. It is also a matter of public record and can be viewed by anyone.
A trust has legal parameters that must be followed. There are different types of trusts that can give one more or less control over the assets held in the trust. A living trust can allow one to maintain ownership of the assets during one’s lifetime and to mange the trust as the trustee. Some downsides to trusts are that they can be expensive to setup and they may not get updated as needed. People tend to remember to update a will but not necessarily a trust.
Estate planning can seem complex in California. Consulting with a legal professional experienced in estate planning can help simplify the process. The professional can review one’s financial situation and assist in crafting wills and trusts that help a person achieve his or her final goals.