Although wills and living trusts are both frequently utilized estate planning tools, they are not interchangeable. Both wills and trusts are used to determine who receives the decedent’s assets. However, for a will to become active, its creator must pass away. Only at this point will their property be transferred to beneficiaries. Conversely, a trust can be activated as soon as it is created. If the grantor wants any of their assets to be distributed before their death, this is made possible with a living trust.
A will can be revoked or altered at any point before the individual’s passing. Although this is also the case for living, or revocable, trusts, other trusts are irrevocable, and this means that the trust cannot be modified or revoked by the grantor after it has been created.
Finally, when someone creates a will but not a trust, the entirety of the estate must proceed through probate court. However, one advantage of creating a trust is that it can help beneficiariesavoid the probate process when it’s time to transfer the assets named in the trust. A trust may also help beneficiaries avoid estate or inheritance taxes.
Probate is a complex process for anyone dealing with the grief caused by a loved one’s death. However, the issue can be compounded if you lack experience with court proceedings, especially probate court. If you’ve been named as an executor, you may be doubly uncertain how to proceed.
Legally speaking, neither beneficiaries nor executors are required to hire a probate lawyer. However, failing to work with an experienced probate attorney can be a disastrous decision, leading to a longer, more expensive, and more stressful probate experience.
Under California law, an estate must proceed through probate according to a series of essential steps. A Tustin probate lawyer can help ensure each of these steps are completed correctly and in a timely manner. From the beginning, your Orange County probate lawyer will help you determine whether probate is necessary, validate any will documents, ensure debts and taxes are paid in full, identify beneficiaries, distribute assets, and close the estate.