Posted in: Blog, Posted On: 16-06-2014, Posted By: Steven Schroeder

What is a Living Trust? 

A Living Trust is a legal document which acts a lot like a Will but does so much more.  It is extremely flexible, allowing you to do more than what a Will allows.  Title to your assets is transferred into the Trust, which is the secret of avoiding probate.  Because of the title change, an alternate trustee of your choosing can follow your instructions to transfer your assets to your heirs without court intervention.  Thus, your Living Trust has eliminated the delays and expense of probate.

What if I Have A Power of Attorney?  Does That Avoid Probate?

NO.  A Power of Attorney, even a Durable Power of Attorney, is revoked upon the death of the person giving the Power of Attorney.

Do I Lose Control Of My Assets In A Living Trust?

Absolutely Not!  You have the same control over your assets regardless of whether they are in your Trust or not.  In most instances, you are the trustee or manager of your Trust, which allows you to continue to deal with your assets as you please.  Any asset within the Trust can be sold, refinanced or even given away should you choose to do so.  It is also very easy to move assets in and out of your Trust.  An attorney need not be involved to do so.

Can a Living Trust Save On Estate Taxes?

YES.  If you and your spouse have property worth in excess of $5,340,000, and you do not have a Living Trust, in addition to substantial probate fees, you may end up paying to the IRS 40% or more on everything over that amount.  With proper estate planning including the use of living trusts, a couple can protect $10,680,000 in their estate before any taxes would accrue.  That amounts to substantial savings.

Is a Living Trust Expensive?

Not when compared to the time and expense involved in the probate process. 

A Living Trust through our office costs less than you think.  Our fee includes the Living Trust, Pour Over Will, Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Management, Advanced Health Care Directive, and preparation of the Deed to transfer your home into the Trust.  The attorney fees for a typical $500,000 estate are over $13,000 and for an estate of $1,000,000 amount to more than $23,000.  Probate is also a completely public affair.  The public has access to information concerning exactly what the family owned, who they owed money to and who receives what.  Most of us believe that these issues should be family matters and not public record.

So What is Probate?

Probate is the process through which the state insures after your death that your liabilities, including taxes, are paid and your assets distributed.

Probate is the only way to transfer title after death to real estate, bank accounts, stocks, etc.  Probate takes between 12 and 18 months and costs 6% or more of your total estate.  It is not something you want to put your family through, and it can be avoided.  All that is needed is a LIVING TRUST.

Why Should I Be Concerned With Probate When My Estate Is So Small?

Any estate of $150,000 or more must be probated.  That amount is your gross estate, not merely equity.  Take a moment to add up your assets.  Does the value exceed $150,000?  If so your beneficiaries may need to file for probate should something happen to you.

Summary of Living Trust Benefits

1.              Eliminates the agony and problems of probate.

2.              Gives you full control over your assets.

3.              Insures your privacy.

4.              Gives you total flexibility.

5.              Possibly saves on estate taxes.

6.              Gives you security and peace of mind.

7.              Provides order and control.


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Law Offices of Steven F. Schroeder
2107 N. Broadway, Ste. 204
Santa Ana, CA 92706

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