Do I Need A Will Or A Trust?

Many people assume that trusts are only for the very wealthy, or for those who are trying to get around tax laws. But the fact is that trusts are necessary more often than you might think.

Here in California, if you own real property (including the land your home is on or investment property), you need a trust. And even when trusts are not strictly required, they can still be incredibly beneficial.

Avoiding Probate: A Will Is Not Always Enough

The probate process can be lengthy, expensive and complicated. That's why, for many people, avoiding probate is a major goal in estate planning. But in some cases, having a will alone will not protect your estate from this added scrutiny.

If you have certain assets totaling more than $150,000, your estate at death is subject to probate in California. Having a will does not avoid probate. You would need a trust.

Types Of Trusts And Their Uses

At Marissa Sirota Law, we regularly help clients establish trusts designed to meet their specific needs. Among the most popular and versatile are living revocable trusts. In many cases, the person whose assets are in the trust names themselves as the original trustee. That way, they maintain control over their assets during their lifetime. Upon death or incapacitation, the assets will be distributed to named beneficiaries or the trust will be turned over to a new trustee.

Our attorney, Marissa Sirota, can help you establish a variety of other trusts as well, including:

  • Life insurance trusts
  • IRA beneficiary trusts: These avoid forced liquidation of tax-deferred assets at death, allowing beneficiaries to keep assets in tax-deferred status
  • Spendthrift trusts: These protect beneficiaries' inheritances from being taken by their creditors
  • Special needs trusts: These have many uses beyond providing for beneficiaries with disabilities. They can also better serve the needs of beneficiaries who cannot or should not manage their own assets due to issues like financial abuse, addiction, etc.

You May Also Need Or Want A Will

In some cases, trusts can replace many of the functions of a will. But even if you have a trust, creating a will may still be necessary or desirable. These documents give you control over where your assets will go and who will be in charge of distributing them. If you have minor children, your will can also contain a testamentary trust, which would establish care for them in your absence.

Discuss Your Needs With An Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer

With an office in Davis, Marissa Sirota Law serves clients in Yolo County and the surrounding areas. To schedule an appointment and learn more about how we can help you, call us at 530-379-4488. You can also contact us via email.