Estate Planning – Trusts, Wills & Powers of Attorney
The most common Trust is a Revocable Living Trust. It represents a private contract between the person or persons creating it and the person or entity they choose to be their Trustee. It does not require court involvement to authorize, create or oversee its administration. It is “Living” as it is prepared and used during the life of the person(s) creating it by transferring an asset into it also referred to as “funding” the trust. When it is funded, the trust is legally in existence and has “life”. Once funded, the trust can serve many family and estate tax planning needs. Assets can be added to it at anytime, whether during your lifetime or upon death. The Trustee is responsible for holding, managing and distributing the assets in the trust based on the rules you establish when you create trust. A Trust can avoid the need for court involvement such as a probate.
WillsA Will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his or her estate upon his or her death and provides for the transfer of his or her property to specified beneficiaries. Any person over the age of majority and of sound mind can draft his or her own will. A testator is a male and a testatrix is a female although they are generically referred to as the “testator”. In California, a Will must generally signed and dated by the testator in front of two disinterested witnesses (not beneficiaries) who are over the age of 18 and of sound mind. A Will does not require notarization. It should be signed and dated at the end of the document. A holographic will is written entirely in the testator’s own hand and does not need to be witnessed.
Powers of Attorney
Also known as Advance Health Care Directives, Living Wills or Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care. They enable you to designate a trusted individual as your agent to carry out your specified health care decisions including the decision to maintain or withdraw life support in the event of your incapacity.
Allow a trusted person designated by you, to manage your financial affairs in the event of your incapacity. They can be very broad or limited to a specific transaction and can be drafted to last for a specified period of time or indefinitely.