Trusts and Estates Blog

How Living Trusts Avoid Probate

estate planningThe point of creating a will and planning an estate is to organize your affairs before death so that all monies and properties are transferred efficiently and quickly to the desired recipients. The more prepared you are, the easier the process will be after you are gone. Having your estate enter probate prolongs the estate settling process and costs considerable money, taking away from your beneficiaries. One way to avoid probate is by creating a living trust. (A Will does not avoid probate!)

The probate process involved inventorying and appraising assets that were in your name, paying debts/taxes, and re-appropriating the monies/properties to the estate beneficiaries. But when you create a living trust, all this can be done quickly and without probate. Usually taxes and fees are lower and your loved ones receive more of your money with a well planned and funded trust based estate plan.

    A trust avoids probate because your assets (or most of them) will be held in the name of the trust, not your individual name.

How to create a trust.

A living trust is similar to a will and begins with a document known as a declaration of trust or trust agreement. You are named as the trustee (if you create the living trust with your spouse you are both co-trustees). Next, you will transfer ownership of all (or some) of your properties to yourself as trustee of the living trust. You won’t give up any control because you are the trustee.

In the living trust, you will declare the people, organizations, or charities you wish to receive benefits from your estate after your death. Realize that you can change these beneficiaries at anytime before you pass on.

Also, when you create a living trust, it’s crucial to create a back-up will as well, commonly called a pour over will. This will ensures that any properties not named in the trust will be given to the desired beneficiaries. If you do not have a pour over will will and properties are not named in the trust, the properties could be handed over to the courts to appropriate according to the laws of the state of your residence.

If you would like more help with using trusts to avoid probate, Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln (TVT) offers sophisticated estate planning and administration for the successful, discriminating client. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve these clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand. For more information, contact TVT at 661-945-5868 or visit their websites at www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com and www.Medi-CalHelp.com.

Why Avoid Probate?

empty pocketsMost people realize that probate is not a favorable process to encounter after the death of a loved one. But why should you avoid probate? What exactly is it about probate that makes it so undesirable? Consider the main drive of avoiding probate—probate fees and the 18 months or so it take to go through the process.

Attorney and court fees in the probate process can take away up to five percent or more of an estate’s value. But it gets worse, your executor is entitled to the same statutory fees as your attorney, doubling the fees. That can take away TEN PERCENT of a $100,000 estate! And that is the starting point of the costs, they only go up from there.

Most of what happens in the probate process is basically clerical, but properties and monies can be tied up in the process for eighteen months or even many years. Even if there is no conflict or petitioning parties in the process, the probate process can be extremely tedious and costly.

For their roles in the probate proceedings, both your lawyers and the will executor will be entitled to a fee paid from the estate. If the executor inherits a substantial portion of the estate, it is normal for he/she to waive the fee owed. However, the probate attorney fees are set by the court (and the amount varies per state).

Many states base the attorney fees on a percentage of the estate value. Routinely, a probate attorney’s fee and court costs for a basic state that grosses $400,000 can total $15,000 or more. (And don’t forget to add in the executor’s fees.) Add in any court costs, appraiser fees, and other random expenses and the cost of the probate process can become extremely costly.

With the dip of the economy, many estates aren’t as large as they once were, and the charges on the estate for probate fees can leave a smaller inheritance even more modest than the deceased hoped to pass on to family. Avoiding probate can help save on costs and make sure all your hard earned money is enjoyed by those you love.

If you would like more help with avoiding probate, Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln (TVT) offers sophisticated estate planning and administration for the affluent, discriminating client. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve these clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand. For more information, contact TVT at 661-945-5868 or visit their websites at www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com and www.Medi-CalHelp.com.

Trusts and Estates Blog