Trust Lawyer in Los Angeles
Enhancing Your Estate Plan with a Strategic Trust
Do I need a Trust or a Will? The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, and almost always, the answer is – you need a Trust.
What Is a Trust?
What is a Trust? A Trust is a legal relationship, usually evidenced by a written document called a "Declaration of Trust" or "Trust Agreement," whereby one person, called the "Settlor or Trustor," transfers property to another person, called the "Trustee," who holds the property for the benefit of another person, called the "Beneficiary." The same person may occupy more than one position at a time. For example, in the typical living Trust, as long as the Settlor is alive, he or she is also the Trustee and Beneficiary. On the death of the Settlor, the named Successor Trustee takes over, and follows the Settlor's instructions set forth in the Trust, concerning the distribution of property, and the payment of taxes and expenses.
Living Trusts and Probate Avoidance. Living Trusts avoid Probate with respect to those assets that are transferred into the living Trust before the Settlor’s death. Even though no court procedure is involved, that does not mean there is nothing to do. The living Trust makes administration easier, but it does not do away with administration altogether. For example, assets still must be collected and managed pending distribution to the Beneficiaries, appraisals of assets have to be obtained, debts and taxes have to be paid, tax returns are required (living Trusts do not avoid Estate taxes, as some people have been led to believe), and legal documents must be prepared in connection with the distribution of the Trust property to the Beneficiaries. These activities are very similar to a Probate. The major difference is that, with a living Trust, everything is handled privately, without court supervision, and without making the assets of the Decedent a public record, which makes for a faster, more private, and less expensive administration process.
Court Involvement. There is also a popular misconception that the existence of a living Trust avoids all possibility of court involvement. This is true (in part) only if all the Settlor's assets were properly conveyed into the living Trust. For example, if assets remain outside the Trust more than a certain amount that may trigger Probate.
At the Law Offices of Maria N. Jonsson, PC, we provide Trust services for clients of all backgrounds and circumstances. Many of the Trusts we create are for traditional nuclear families, but we also assist unmarried couples, single or divorced individuals, same-sex couples, and blended families. We understand that every client’s situation is entirely unique, which is why we customize each Estate Plan to suit each person’s particular needs. Our attorney has nearly two decades of experience, and she looks forward to putting that experience to work for you and your loved ones.
Mediator by Training & Peacemaker by Heart
We Work as Part of a Larger Team
Strategic Planning & Attention to Detail