One of the most common misconceptions about estate planning is that the only document you really need is a will. Actually, in order to achieve your estate planning goals as efficiently as possible, you may benefit from having other key documents in place, such as a living trust.
But what is a living trust, exactly? What are the benefits of having one? And at what point is it smart to enlist a team of living trust and will lawyers? Let’s take a closer look at each of these questions and more.
What is a Living Trust?
Before we get to the matter of hiring a living trust lawyer, let’s first explain what this document actually is.
A living trust is a legal structure that is created during an individual’s lifetime (that person is known as the trustor), designating a person (the trustee) with the responsibility to manage all of the assets and funds assigned to the trust.
The trustee’s role is to act in the best interests of the trustor, and specifically to manage the assets in the trust so that they will grow in value before being passed along to an heir or beneficiary.
Your living trust lawyer can explain more about what this important estate planning document involves.
Why Have a Living Trust?
Your living trust attorney can also provide greater insight into the benefits of this document.
Put simply, a living trust is intended to make it as easy as possible to pass along your assets or property to an eventual beneficiary. And, a living trust is intended to help you bypass the probate process. When your assets enter probate, it usually means a lot of legal fees and red tape for your beneficiaries to deal with once you die.
It’s important to note that, if your estate plan only consists of a will, you’ll almost surely see your assets enter probate. Trusts are uniquely valuable for avoiding the probate process. Again, your living trust attorney can tell you more.
What’s the Difference Between a Living Will, Trust, and Power of Attorney?
There can be some confusion surrounding all the different estate planning documents. Let’s take a moment to clarify the distinctions between a living will, trust, and power of attorney.
- A living will, also known as an advance health care directive, outlines your wishes for end-of-life care, specifically detailing your views about resuscitation, life-sustaining technology, etc.
- We have already discussed the importance of a trust, which is a great way to streamline the transfer of assets and to help you avoid probate.
- A financial power of attorney empowers someone to act as your legal representative on financial and business concerns, particularly if you become medically incapacitated. A medical power of attorney works in much the same way but is targeted toward health care decisions as opposed to financial ones.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer?
The bottom line is that determining which estate planning documents you need, and ensuring your documents all work together harmoniously, can be complicated. A skilled attorney can help you craft a comprehensive plan that addresses all of your estate planning needs, whether that involves a living trust, a living will, a financial power of attorney, or all of the above.
Ready to talk with an estate planning attorney in the Fremont, CA area? At Singh Law Firm, we have much experience navigating United States trust law on behalf of our clients. We’d love to answer any of your questions. Contact us whenever you’re ready to chat about your estate planning needs.