The use of trusts in estate planning
For many California residents, estate planning is best handled in the simplest way possible. The most basic form of ensuring that an individual's heirs get their assets is to leave property to them in a will. This process ensures that a beneficiary receives their inheritance in a lump sum. If someone is leaving behind assets of lower value than the federal estate tax exemption, a will could be the easiest way to allocate someone's property following their death.
However, there are many cases where it is a good idea to take advantage of the benefits offered by trusts. These vehicles can give people more flexibility when leaving assets to individuals, and they may also help people reduce the tax obligation that beneficiaries face. With a trust, someone can decide to leave property to their heirs over a period of time, and a trusted individual can be assigned to distribute the trust's assets. If someone has minor children or is concerned about the financial acumen of beneficiaries, this can be very helpful.
Another major benefit of trusts is that they allow people to bypass the probate process. Probate can prevent someone from being able to immediately access property left to them in a will, and if the testator's property is located in several states, the executor will have to deal with the probate process for each of them.
Even if someone does not have what they consider to be substantial assets, estate planning is still often essential. Estate planning does cover asset distribution, but it also deals with how people are cared for when incapacitated or unable to make medical choices for themselves. A lawyer can help determine which documents are appropriate for a client's particular set of circumstances.