First, it is important to know the different between a will and a trust, as many people confuse the two.
Will: A will is a document that appoints an administrator of your estate following your death, as well as directs the disposition of your property. Additionally, a will can designate guardianship of young children. If you pass away and have more than $150,000 in assets in your name as an individual without beneficiaries, a court probate proceeding is necessary. See the probate section for more information on the probate process.
Trust : Where a will falls short, a trust can make distribution of property more efficient and less costly. A trust is recommended for all persons who own real property and for people who have more specific directions as to distribution of their assets than a will can provide. When a trust is properly drafted and funded, the beneficiaries avoid probate court proceedings. A trust appoints a trustee and directs disposition of property in a similar manner to the will, however, the trust administration process following your death occurs outside the court system. There are varying levels of complexity in living trusts based on the wishes and needs of each client. We have a great deal of experience drafting all varieties of trusts from the simple to extremely complex. Last, unlike a will, a trust does not become public record.
When we prepare wills and trusts for clients, we also prepare a Durable Power of Attorney, an Advanced Health Care Directive, and a HIPAA release for the client. These documents are extremely important during your lifetime should you become unable to manage your finances and/or daily living. Designating people you trust with a power of attorney over your finances and as an agent for your health care decisions can avoid the costly and emotionally straining ordeal of court conservatorship proceedings.
We invite you to learn about our estate planning services by contacting us online or by phone 310-402-2844. Based in Torrance, our lawyers serve clients throughout Southern California.