California Estate Planning with a Living Trust Checklist

California state planning without expensive California probate lawyers

A living Trust does not need to be overly complicated.  Essentially, a Living Trust will convey the wishes of the creator/s upon their passing, to a trusted person, to be carried out (the executor). To assume that age is relevant, may prove to be a mistake.

As you look at the process of California estate planning, consider that none of knows when we will pass. Creating a Trust may help facilitate a smooth transition for the beneficiaries.

  • Create a list of items you wish to list in the trust.  This can include your cars, houses, land, stocks and bonds, life insurance policies, heirlooms, and other special items.
  • Prepare all of the relevant paperwork for those items, like deeds, proof of ownership, photos, serial numbers, and such.  Try to keep this paperwork organized, in a secure but accessible location.
  • Knowing that property put into a trust should either be wholly owned or a joint trust created, make that decision.
  • Make an extensive list of beneficiaries. This list should include their contact and living information, email addresses and phone numbers, and any other ways to contact those people.   In our decades of experience, we have seen that all too often trusts are created without a way to reach the intended beneficiaries and an estate ends up in probate.   The goal is to avoid probate, and to do thoughtful California estate planning.  This simple beneficiary list is a way to help achieve that objective.
  • Choose a Trustee, a person to manage the distribution after your passing. Consider this scenario: a client designated one of his children to facilitate the Trust after his passing. When it came time for distribution, the remaining beneficiaries looked to the distributor as if she was to blame for the choices of the person who passed.  This scenario is not unusual.
    1. Animosity builds very quickly, especially if we intentionally pit siblings between each other.  Emotions are running sky high when grief, sadness, family dynamics, and finances cross paths.
    2. We should remember that after we pass, the remaining heirs associate specific items with our memory and have been known to fight over very inconsequential things.  By laying out your wishes in advance, it can avoid ugly disputes over things that should not become the focus of heirs; particularly when a smooth disposition of assets is possible with just a bit of foresight and planning.
    3. The moral of the story is that we should consider using an impartial party to distribute our legacy, one that typically is not a beneficiary, and has nothing to gain or lose.  A person who his neutral and who is focused on administering assets upon death efficiently, honestly, and appropriately can be the key when the paperwork may not be perfectly in order.  Our goal at is to ensure that this situation does not arise!California estate planning can use bring great peace of mind.
    4. If you have minor children, it may be time to designate a person to care for that child, financially and medically.
    5. You may also consider a Special Needs Trust, if you have any children with special needs.
    6. If you have children with Special Needs, their inheritance may affect their Medical needs and awards.  Having these things all in order can be of critical benefit and importance to a child who needs additional, or in some cases, lifetime care.

We are here to help, and with just the tools offered on this website, you can choose an affordable way to create a living trust.  The questions on our easy-to-complete forms system will help you get your Living Trust checklist completed, and bring you peace of mind.  Feel free to contact us today for more information or with any questions.