If the “market value” of your assets, to be distinguished from your equity in the asset, exceeds $100.000.00, then you should consider executing a Revocable Living Trust. If the value of your assets is under $100.000.00 then you should execute a Will to protect your estate from probate. If you create a Revocable Living Trust, you also need a Last Will and Testament which is referred to as a Pour-Over Will for any items that just in case you inadvertently leave something out of your Revocable Living Trust, or need a Guardianship provision.
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A revocable trust can be a living trust or an inter vivos trust; one that is created while you are alive. A California living or inter vivos trust differs from a testamentary trust in that, by having one, all assets held in trust will not be probated by a California probate court.
The most common form of living trust is the California revocable living trust. Revocable means that you can amend your living trust while you are alive. In contrast, a California irrevocable trust cannot be amended or terminated once it has been created.
The person who creates a revocable trust is generally called the trust “settlor” in California. The person who is legally responsible to manage the trust property, called “res,” is the “trustee.” The person who will receive trust property, or benefit from the trust, is called the “beneficiary.” The settlor, trustee, and beneficiary can be the same person in a California revocable trust.
California revocable living trusts are very useful in that they avoid the burdensome probate process. By creating and implementing a California living trust you can avoid a probate. At death, the trust assets are distributed according to the settlor’s instructions written in the trust. The successor trustee, person or entity who manages the trust after the settlor’s death, will distribute all assets without involvement by a California court. Trust provisions and instruction need not be disclosed to others or the public.
Often, the settlor is the trustee (and beneficiary) of a California revocable living trust during their life. Thus the settlor maintains control of all trust assets during their lifetime. Spouses can act together as co-trustees of a joint trust and when one spouse becomes incapacitated or dies the remaining spouse can be the sole trustee.
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