A California living trust is a legal document that lets you transfer your assets to loved ones while you are alive. By creating one before you die, you can avoid probate which saves time and money and often results in lower fees for your heirs. You can do this yourself or hire an attorney, both options have pros and cons. Creating your own living trust may result in less expensive fees but could also mean missing out on some important legal details. If you choose instead to hire an attorney, they will oversee all aspects of the process and make sure everything is done correctly so that there are no issues after your death.
Choose a trustee.
You may choose any person you want to serve as your trustee. If you want more than one person to be the trustee of your trust, you can name a co-trustee. You may also appoint an alternate trustee in case the first choice becomes unable to serve.
You can appoint a trust company or bank as your trustee but only if they agree to act in that capacity and if they are authorized by law to accept such appointment. If there is no attorney in fact named in the living trust, then it’s generally not advisable for you to name either an individual or institution as trustee unless there is some assurance that they will remain available until death or incapacity overtakes them.
Choose a successor trustee.
Choosing your successor trustee is an important step. The successor trustee will be responsible for managing your estate after your death and distributing it to your beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust. Choose this person carefully, as they’ll handle a lot of money when you pass away.
Consider these things:
- Is this person trustworthy?
- Does he or she have experience handling large amounts of money? Can he or she afford to take on additional responsibilities?
- Will this person act in my best interests when handling my estate?
It’s also important to choose someone who isn’t going to have any conflicts of interest while carrying out his/her duties as successor trustee.
Create a trust agreement.
The trust agreement sets out the terms of your trust. It should include:
- The name of the person who will serve as trustee and their address.
- A list of beneficiaries and their addresses. If you have children from more than one marriage, this can be tricky, but it is important to do it correctly. Otherwise, you could run into problems later down the line.
- A description of property that will be transferred to the trust, along with its value at the date when it was transferred into your Living Trust. How any property passing through a beneficiary’s interest in a living trust may be managed by spending or investment during lifetime. This can be done through several options, including income payments made directly by another party such as an IRA custodian, creating certain kinds investments within each beneficiary’s account themselves or allowing trustees making these decisions on behalf all beneficiaries together and many different combinations between these three choices. The terms under which any principal may revert back into your living trust upon death instead being distributed by someone else.