While the California probate system is fairly streamlined, some drawbacks make it difficult for families who are set to inherit land, money, or other assets. Here are the top reasons you should have a living trust if you live in California instead of leaving your assets to the probate courts.
1. Eliminate the Need for a Probate
Most people choose to have a living trust because it eliminates the need for probate. In California, whenever someone dies, the land and other assets they own could get put through the probate system. This can take two years to total the assets and distribute them to family members. Without a living trust, only smaller estates under a specific amount can use a shorter probate system. Unfortunately, most people who own property in California fit into this category. However, a living trust will eliminate the need for this lengthy and virtually guaranteed process.
2. Reduce Strain on Your Family
The probate process is a lengthy one. Aside from time, other factors can make probates even more stressful for your family. Additionally, whatever inheritance you have left from your estate is not distributed until the probate hearings are over and required documentation has been submitted. This can cause excessive strain and stress for your family members trying to get back to normal without you. Fortunately, a living trust removes this strain so your family can focus on grieving.
3. Save Your Family Money
There is a big difference in the cost of having a probate trial and a living trust. Paying a small fee to create a living trust now can save your family a lot after you pass. Typically, an attorney in California can draft an estate plan for only a few thousand dollars. This will include your living trust, and your family won’t need to pay fees after you die. However, probate fees can cost your family up to $40,000 to settle your estate when you don’t have a living trust. Therefore, you will want to create a living trust if you want to save your family money down the road.
4. Control Where Your Assets Go
You’ve spent your entire life accumulating your assets. When you don’t have a living trust, the state probate court decides who gets these assets. That means your assets can be given to people you did not intend to leave anything to. A living trust lets you control your assets. Specifically, it lets you decide who gets to receive your assets. Your living trust lets you designate who will be in charge of handling your estate and who gets the property. For example, if you’re married, you can leave all of your assets to your spouse. You also have the option to leave your assets to friends, charities, or other organizations. The person you designate to carry out your living trust must abide by any instructions you leave. In other words, a living trust is a great idea if you want to control who receives your assets.
5. Give Your Family Privacy
In California, most probate hearings are public records. Anyone can find information about a probate case. They can also make copies of this information. In other words, anyone could access information from your case about your family and who received your assets if probate is conducted. This can mean a violation of your family’s privacy. Plus, you could end up with people contacting your family and scamming them out of your money.
A living trust is a good idea for California residents. The main benefit is that it eliminates the need for the probate process. This can protect your assets and make it easier for your family after your death.