ORANGE COUNTY TRUSTS LAWYER
ORANGE COUNTY TRUSTS Attorney
Eventually, everyone will need to consider end-of-life plans to ensure their assets and property pass to their loved ones after their death. While some people may not like to consider morbid topics like estate planning, it’s vital to be objective about the process and understand the value of investing time and effort into a solid, reliable estate plan.
At the Law Office of Christopher P. Walker, our team specializes in helping clients build estate plans that provide security and peace of mind. One of the most important estate planning topics everyone should understand is that of trusts. A trust can be a perfect solution to ensuring your property is in good hands if you die or become incapacitated in any way. Our team can help you understand how trusts work and help you develop a trust that serves your family’s best interests.
WHY DO I NEED AN ORANGE COUNTY TRUSTS LAWYER?
It is technically feasible to craft a trust without the assistance of an attorney. This is generally only advisable for individuals with very limited assets or a single beneficiary. If you own a complex estate, it is always best to secure legal counsel when you decide to form a trust. An experienced Orange County trusts lawyer can ensure your trust satisfies your goals for your property and assets and provides the security you and your loved ones desire.
It is also important to remember that a trust should only be one portion of an individual’s estate plan. Generally, it is best to create an estate plan with four distinct components: a trust, a will, a medical care plan, and a Power of Attorney designation. By working with an experienced trusts lawyer, you can not only develop a solid trust but also explore other estate planning opportunities that can provide additional security to you and your loved ones.
HOW DOES A TRUST WORK?
The basic components of a trust are relatively straightforward. The property owner, also known as the trustor or grantor, creates a trust that transfers the legal ownership of the contents of a trust to a trustee. This trustee can be a close relative such as a spouse or child, an institution, or a trusted professional. Some trustors designate their attorneys as their trustees, while others prefer to leave the responsibility of acting as a trustee to a close relative.
The trustee’s administrative responsibility is to ensure the contents of the trust are distributed according to the trustor’s wishes following their death. Upon the trustor’s death, the trustee has the responsibility of distributing the contents of the trust as directed by the trustor. The trustee typically receives some form of compensation for their management of the trust, and the trustor will stipulate this compensation in the trust documentation.
It is vital for anyone involved in a trust to understand that this contract forms a fiduciary relationship between the trustee and the beneficiaries designated in the trust. This means the trustee must act in alignment with the beneficiaries’ best interests. Additionally, the trustee is legally responsible for any damages caused by mismanagement of the trust and its contents.
Your trust will contain all of the assets and property you intend to pass on to your family after your death. Some examples of things you can add to your trust include:
- Real estate deeds.
- Your business interests.
- Bank accounts.
- Retirement accounts.
- Life insurance.
- Valuable property, such as fine artworks.
- Precious metals.
- Family heirlooms and jewelry.
- Patents and trademarks you own
Your Orange County trusts attorney can help you determine which assets you own are eligible to include in your trust, as well as the type of trust that would best suit your needs. A trust can take many forms, and it’s vital to understand your options when it comes to creating your own trust. Depending on the amount of assets and property you own, your tax concerns, and the number of beneficiaries you plan to designate in your estate plan, one type of trust may provide significant benefits over another.
REVOCABLE VS. IRREVOCABLE LIVING TRUSTS
A living trust takes effect while the trustor is still alive. By comparison, a testamentary trust only takes effect when the trustor dies, transferring ownership of the trust to the trustor’s designated trustee. If you decide to create a living trust, there are two options. This first is to create a revocable living trust that allows you to adjust the terms of the trust and add more to the trust as you see fit. The second would be to create an irrevocable living trust that is essentially set in stone and cannot be altered in any way. There are benefits and drawbacks to both types of living trusts. An experienced Orange County trusts attorney can help you determine which option better suits your needs and expectations.
With a revocable living trust, the trustor retains a significant degree of ownership and control over the trust while they are still alive, meaning the trust does not shield the contents from creditors. Additionally, revocable living trusts are subject to state and federal estate taxes upon the trustor’s death. Depending on the size of the trust, it may be in the trustor’s best interests to construct the trust as a revocable living trust to ensure they have the ability to easily make changes to the terms of the trust, add contents to the trust, or change beneficiary designations.
Irrevocable trusts may seem disadvantageous to some due to the fact that you cannot change the trust after its creation, but the reality is that an irrevocable trust can act as a tax shield against state and federal estate taxes. Additionally, an irrevocable living trust can help the trustor’s family completely avoid the probate process as all of the trustor’s assets transfer to the trustee immediately upon creation of the trust.
In the event you want to take advantage of the benefits of an irrevocable living trust but are concerned about adding more items to the trust in the future, your Orange County trusts lawyer can help you create a “pour-over will,” a document that essentially transfers ownership of any assets that have not been included in your trust to the ownership of your trustee upon your death. This is a great contingency plan for anyone who wants to take advantage of the tax benefits of an irrevocable living trust and still ensure assets gained after the creation of the trust are added to the trust.
BENEFITS OF CREATING A TRUST WITH THE HELP OF AN ATTORNEY
Working with an experienced Orange County trusts lawyer to create a trust is one of the best decisions you can make when it comes to estate planning. Even if you have already started the estate planning process by developing a will or designating a Power of Attorney, creating a trust can provide an additional layer of security over your assets and provide your family with invaluable peace of mind.
Hiring a reliable attorney to assist in trust creation provides several tangible benefits:
- While you might be able to draft a trust on your own, it’s likely you could overlook crucial details that can cause problems for your trustee and beneficiaries after your death. Your attorney can provide professional guidance as you work through the elements of your trust to ensure it is as comprehensive and legally enforceable as possible.
- An experienced attorney can review the assets you plan to place into your trust and verify all preexisting beneficiary designations. In the event you have an older account with a beneficiary designation that conflicts with designations added to your trust, this can lead to probate disputes among your beneficiaries.
- Your Orange County trusts lawyer will assist you in streamlining your estate plan’s various components, ensuring the elements of your estate plan are as cohesive and legally enforceable as possible under California and federal law.
- An attorney can help you determine which form of trust would offer the best tax benefits to you and your loved ones. Tax laws, especially estate tax laws at the state and federal levels, can be incredibly confusing without reliable legal guidance.
An Orange County trusts lawyer can be your best asset if you want to create a trust that minimizes your tax liability and reduces the chance your loved ones will need to endure tedious and stressful probate proceedings.
PROVIDING RELIABLE, DETAIL-ORIENTED LEGAL COUNSEL FOR TRUST CREATION IN ORANGE COUNTY
If you have decided to create a trust, it’s vital to have reliable legal representation as you navigate this complex process. At the Law Office of Christopher P. Walker, our team has extensive experience crafting detailed, comprehensive, and legally binding trusts that provide our clients with the financial security and peace of mind they expect from their estate plans.
We work closely with our clients to develop trusts that suit their individual needs and expectations. If you are ready to start developing any type of trust, or if you want to ensure your trust works cohesively with the other important elements of your estate plan, contact the Law Office of Christopher P. Walker today to schedule a consultation with our estate planning team.