Estates in California with a market value of more than $150,000 must go through the full probate process in the absence of a will or trust. Considering the value of most real property in the state, most Californians who own a home face the possibility of having their estate go through probate.
Creating a trust provides a method of managing assets both during life and after death. They are especially helpful in California, simplifying the process in the following ways:
Avoiding the expense of probate
In many states, probate can be relatively painless. But, probate in California is expensive. The estate must pay fees to attorneys, administrators and executors as well as court fees. California Probate Code §10810 sets out the maximum fees for attorneys and personal representatives as a percentage of the value of the estate.
For example, an estate worth $800,000 would likely owe $19,000 in compensation for an attorney or personal representative. Setting up a living trust allows your estate to stay out of probate and save on those costs.
Retaining privacy and control
Many people prefer to set up a living trust because it keeps their affairs private. Since probate happens in the court system, those proceedings are a matter of public record.
A living trust also allows you to retain control over your assets. You can choose to distribute some assets during your lifetime or keep them all in trust until your passing. The creator of a trust also chooses what assets are included in the trust – while a will tends to cover all assets.
Protect your assets, whatever they may be
There is no minimum dollar amount that makes a will or trust necessary. Everyone should create a plan for their assets should the worst happen. A California estate planning attorney can help you understand your options and choose the best path.