A Trust, also called a Living Trust, Family Trust or Revocable Trust is a contract between you as the creator of the Trust (Trustor or Settlor) and someone, a Trustee, creating a legal fiction which can own assets. In other words you made a container to hold your valuables, such as real estate, bank accounts and even collectibles. The Trustee is in charge of the assets but can only use those assets for the benefit of the trust Beneficiaries. In order for a valid Trust to be created in California there must be assets in the Trust, a Trustee and a beneficiary. The Trustee holds “legal” title to the assets and the beneficiary holds “beneficial” title.
The Trust contains a set of instructions to the Trustee on how the items or assets are to be used and who they can benefit. Only assets placed into the Trust are controlled by the Trustee. Normally the creator of the Trust names his/her self as the Trustee and thus maintains control of their assets. If the Trustee is incapacitated or dies the successor Trustee steps in. Unlike the Probate process no court or judge is involved in this transition. The new Trustee can immediately begin administering the trust assets for the benefit of the Beneficiaries.
Trusts are powerful tools in the Estate Planning process. Some of the advantages are:
- The costly process of probate is avoided; the probate fee for a $400,000 estate is $11,000.
- A Trust keeps assets out of the hands of beneficiaries who are not able to manage them properly, such as young children and adults with dependency problems.
- If a beneficiary is disabled and receives certain governmental benefits a cash distribution can be a disaster. A Trustee can use the funds for the welfare of the disabled person and they can still retain their benefits.
- Trusts are private, unlike a Will which during Probate is public record.
- Trusts can continue for many years after the Settlors death providing benefits to generations to come.
- Trusts can be very complicated and extensive if desired, placing conditions on the use of Trust funds, i.e. educational or assets to be owned by the Trust
- A Trust can be used to maintain family ownership of real estate
Hundreds of homes and families in the Roseville, Rocklin, and Citrus Heights area use Living Trusts to protect the ones they love.