California Estate Planning Options Include Wills and Trusts

Q: Do I need a trust or a will? Or both?

Two of the many benefits of seeking counsel from a skilled California estate planning attorney–instead of attempting a risky do-it-yourself will– are a law school education and years of experience.

You certainly wouldn’t stitch your own wound closed and probably wouldn’t offer to be a surgeon’s first case. So, shouldn’t you trust the treatment of your hard-earned assets and the protection of your family’s future to a similar level of legal care?

It’s not only expensive to live in California compared to other states, but it can be expensive to die here, too. An attorney can review your particular situation and craft an estate plan that will accomplish your goals, protect your assets, secure your family’s future, and save you money.

Most people have heard of a last will and testament, the most popular estate planning document. In some cases, it may be the only document needed regarding the transfer of assets upon death. But in many other cases, a living trust may be a better choice. There are many other trusts, living or testamentary, that can be used to achieve objectives like asset protection, long-term care planning, or providing for loved ones with special needs.

Unfortunately, well-meaning people who attempt their own estate plans (or don’t have a plan at all) may be vulnerable to losing everything in the face of an eventual disability or need for long-term care while others– by using boilerplate language– may inadvertently jeopardize government benefits for a loved one with special needs.

Some people need trusts, some need wills, and some would benefit from both.

Trusts may be a good option for those who want to avoid probate and its associated costs and delays. In addition, by-passing the public probate process maintains your privacy. There are tax and other benefits to trusts in certain situations.

Whether an estate plan has a will with an executor or a trust with trustees, you will be designating a person or persons who are trustworthy and competent to administer your estate or trust. Choose these people wisely because their duties can be daunting.

A trust administration attorney can help set up and fund trusts as well as guide trustees in the administration of the trust so they avoid mistakes or misdeeds that could land them in legal hot water due to a breach of their fiduciary responsibilities to the trust’s beneficiaries.

If you need an initial estate plan, or would like to modify an existing estate plan, Biddle Law can help you. Contact us today for a free 15-minute consultation.

From our offices in San Mateo and Belmont, we serve clients in San Mateo County including San Carlos, Burlingame, and Foster City, California.