Many individuals planning the distribution of their assets after their death choose to create a will. However, a will is not the only important estate planning document—an increasing number of Tustin area residents are also choosing to create a trust. A trust is a legal arrangement in which a third party, known as a trustee or administrator, manages assets on your behalf for the benefit of a beneficiary.

A trust can be a vital component of your estate plan, as it takes effect immediately and can help your loved ones avoid the time and costs necessary to navigate probate court following your death. Trusts can also prevent the state from leveraging estate taxes after your assets pass to your beneficiaries. If you choose to utilize a will alone, your estate must advance through probate court before your beneficiaries can receive your assets. Many individuals choose to create both a will and a trust.


No matter the size of your estate, it is essential to consult with a Tustin estate attorney to help you determine whether a trust or a will is most appropriate for your future beneficiaries. A Tustin trust lawyer can then help you understand the difference between a living trust and a testamentary trust, as well as other types of trusts that may apply to your situation.

The Law Offices of Christopher P. Walker strive to help individuals and families create and administrate legal trusts in Tustin, CA. We can work with you to ensure you create a comprehensive, customized trust tailored to suit your needs—and our Tustin trust attorneys will provide you with the advice and guidance you need along the way. Creating a trust with our firm can help you avoid the burdens associated with probate court and give your family the peace of mind that comes with knowing their future is secure.


The day-to-day tasks of a trust attorney can vary quite substantially depending on the complexity of the estate and the elements of the trust involved. Some trusts are straightforward and can be drafted in a matter of hours with the participation of the asset owner, while others involve multiple parties or complex assets. In some cases, a trust is created through the will of an individual who has passed away and has left behind assets to be distributed in a trust. In this case, a trust lawyer will be hired to create the document and ensure that it is executed properly in accordance with California law.

Common responsibilities of a Tustin trust attorney include:

  • Providing legal advice and guidance to clients who need to understand how trusts work
  • Helping clients understand how assets can be protected under the law and managed during life and after death
  • Helping clients create customized, lawful trusts and wills to fit their needs
  • Drafting and filing legal documents to create, modify or terminate trusts
  • Evaluating and analyzing existing trusts for clients
  • Navigating tax laws, estate planning, and other procedures that may be involved in trusts
  • Trust litigation


It is important to note that a trust can be created to be revocable or irrevocable. Revocable trusts, also known as “inter vivos” or “living” trusts, are established while the creator of the trust is still alive. These trusts can be altered or eliminated by the creator at any time. At the time of the grantor’s death, the trust becomes irrevocable. Trusts that were created as irrevocable trusts may not be modified without consent of all beneficiaries.

There are many types of trusts you can create to protect your assets and beneficiaries during life as well as after your death. Most are created as revocable trusts before the grantor’s death, including:

  • Special needs trusts. This type of trust is created on behalf of an individual who receives government benefits for a disability or special need, such as supplemental security income and healthcare. Special needs trusts are also popular for parents of special needs children who want to ensure that their children will be taken care of after their death.
  • Asset protection trust. These trusts are frequently formed in countries other than the United States, but the assets do not always need to be transferred. The goal of an asset protection trust is to protect assets from creditor assault.
  • Charitable trust. Charitable trusts benefit a specific charity or may even benefit the public. Charitable trusts are often created as part of an estate plan to avoid or reduce estate and gift taxes for the parties who benefit from the estate’s assets.
  • Constructive trusts. This type of trust is used to transfer property rights when an individual cannot legally convey the title.

While these are some of the common types of trusts used in California, another type of trust may be more suitable for your estate. Therefore, it is important to consult with a trust attorney to understand the trust options available to you as you navigate the estate planning process.


One of the most important responsibilities of a Tustin trust attorney is to help you determine what will happen to your estate after your death. The process of estate planning may involve several legal documents. To decide what to include in your estate plan, you must first consider your goals for estate distribution. Important considerations may include:

  • What assets will I have in my estate?
  • How do I want assets to be managed and distributed when I pass away?
  • Who should care for my minor children or other dependents?
  • What are my wishes for funeral arrangements or burial?
  • Do I have specific instructions regarding my medical treatment?

You may also want to consider:

  • The overall cost of your final wishes and how it will affect those receiving assets upon your death
  • Life insurance, which can help protect your family from financial hardship in the event of your death
  • Gifting plans or trusts, which can help reduce taxes owed on certain assets during life and after death
  • Working with a Tustin trust attorney to ensure your wishes are communicated in a comprehensive, legally valid manner

Tustin Trust lawyer

The most comprehensive estate plans include at least these four elements:

  • Trusts. Trusts are a form of succession planning to help manage assets and protect them from taxes, creditors, lawsuits, or other circumstances.
  • Last will and testament. A will can outline your wishes for how to distribute assets after you pass away, who will become legal guardians of any children under the age of 18 or other dependents, and establish your final wishes regarding your burial, cremation, or funeral.
  • Financial power of attorney. A general financial power of attorney enables someone else to make financial decisions on behalf of your estate and handle any assets you own. If you become incapacitated, the person appointed by this document can manage your bank account and other assets.
  • Medical directives. A medical directive communicates your wishes regarding healthcare decisions if you become incapacitated, including the use of life support or resuscitative efforts. Establishing a healthcare proxy appoints someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not able to communicate your wishes.


Every estate plan is unique, and the cost of creating an appropriate trust can vary depending on its complexity. Your trust attorney may charge a flat rate for your trust documents or bill you hourly for the work involved. In California, hourly fees can range from $175 in rural areas to over $400/hour. Flat rates for a trust are typically over $1000 for individuals and more for couples.

After your death, your trust must provide administration fees to the trustee—often one to two percent of the value of the estate’s assets. By California state probate law, the trustee’s attorney is also entitled to reasonable fees. The Law Offices of Christopher P. Walker are proud to offer legal consultations and affordable, transparent rates that empower clients and trustees alike the estate plans they need at prices within their means.


While a will is sufficient for many types of estates, it is important to recognize that wills must be validated in probate court, and willed assets must proceed through probate court before distribution. A trust can be a valuable addition to your estate plan. Consider using a trust lawyer in the following situations:

  • You want to create a trust or other estate plan
  • You want to transfer assets to anyone but your spouse
  • You want to control your assets before your death.
  • You are facing a family law issue, such as divorce or child custody litigation
  • You are facing other litigation involving your assets
  • You have assets that could be used as part of the settlement in a legal case, such as a business, real estate investments, or other valuable assets
  • You want to reduce the tax burden on your estate after death
  • You want to help your family avoid probate court if possible


The Law Offices of Christopher P. Walker is a premier Tustin estate planning and family law practice that has been serving clients throughout Orange County for years. Our firm is dedicated to providing high-quality legal counsel, comprehensive estate planning solutions, and professional representation should litigation become necessary. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced, compassionate Tustin trust attorney.

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