revocable living trust california

Revocable living trust in California

A revocable living trust in California, completed at EstateLDA, is a legal trust document created by an individual that can be changed or amended over time. California revocable living trusts are used to avoid probate and to protect the privacy of the trust owner, the Trustee, and beneficiaries of the trust as well as minimize estate taxes.  A revocable living trust is a legal document that states who you want to manage and distribute your assets if you’re unable to, and who receives those things when you pass away. Creating your revocable living trust in California through EstateLDA, helps communicate your wishes so your loved ones aren’t left guessing or dealing with the courts in probate.  At EstateLDA, a very common question we hear is, Who owns the property in a revocable trust? The answer is that after the assets assigned to the trust they belong to the trust itself, not the trustee.  Those assets remain subject to the rules and instructions of the revocable trust contract. Most basically, a trust is a right in property, which is held in a fiduciary relationship by one party for the benefit of another.  When we think of a revocable trust, we often think of it as a vehicle that holds all of our stuff.  The only person that may drive that vehicle is the Trustee.

For all your questions and creating a revocable living trust in California, get in touch with EstateLDA.

Avoid Probate

The cost of going to Probate Court can be tolling, and because of that, many people do whatever they can to avoid Probate Court.  There are many options in many states however, in California these are popular choices:

1. Living Trust – Use  to help you create a Living Trust.  Did you know that in California, you may try to avoid probate for almost any asset you own like, real estate, bank accounts, vehicles and much more…  We can help you to create a Trust that names a trusted person to take over your estate, after you pass. We call this person a successor trustee.  After creating your Trust, you must transfer the assets you have into that Trust, for which you are the Trustee.

  • A simple way to thin about this is that you have bought a special vehicle that only you can drive until you are dead. After you have passed, only the person you name in advance, may drive that vehicle for you, and they must drive it according to a map that you drew, giving pieces of that vehicle out as they drive, until it is depleted.
  • Your chosen driver, the Successor Trustee will transfer everything, according to your wishes, from the name of your Trust, into the names of the beneficiaries, without Probate.

2. POD Bank Accounts – Payable on Death is another way to avoid Probate Court.  Creating a POD designation at your bank is another popular method and typically requires no special fees.  All of the money in these accounts remains at your disposal and the POD beneficiary can transfer any remaining funds into their account after your passing with a copy of a Death Certificate.

3. TOD Securities – Securities are important and they can also be kept out of Probate by using a Transfer on Death Registration, this is available in California for both stocks and bonds.

4. TOD Real Estate Deeds – According to California Probate Code § 5620, Transfer on Death Real Estate Deeds can be used to avoid Probate.  The beneficiary would have no right to any property until after your death and you retain full rights over the property until you pass.  Another common term for these deeds is Beneficiary Deeds.

5. TOD Vehicle Registration – The Transfer on Death Vehicle Registration is allowed in California, and processed through the DMV, or in some cases AAA. The vehicle in question will automatically transfer to the named person after your death, without the need for Probate Court.  However, there may be some documentation required by the DMV.

6. Property Joint Ownership – The “Right of Survivorship” clause may automatically protect a survivor after a passing, as the property would automatically transfer over to that surviving person.  Probate may be avoided in this situation, with the proper paperwork being provided to the County and Mortgage company.

Joint Tenancy and Community Property with Right of Survivorship are two California types of Joint Ownership.

  • In Community Property with Right of Survivorship, spouses and domestic partners are thought to own all property acquired during a marriage, unless there are legal steps taken to intentionally avoid this. If spouses or domestic partners hold title to assets as community property with the right of survivorship, then it may automatically pass to the survivor when one person passes.
  • Also, property held in Joint Tenancy may automatically pass to the survivor without the need for Probate Court. This process does work well when both partners hold equal shares in the property in question, real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, and other assets.

How to Avoid Probate in California with EstateLDA

1. List and name beneficiaries on each account that will allow it.

2. Establish a Trust into which you leave your property and assets that may be transferred at the time of death.

3. Set up accounts/property to be held jointly so that they are transferred to the other party on death.  By establishing joint ownership of your property with right of survivorship, you may avoid probate as the title to that property is transferred to the surviving owner.  Be sure to check with your state about the difference between ‘Tenancy by the Entireties’ and ‘Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship’, which may apply only to married couples.

Probate may be required when a person passes away and leaves unassigned assets. For example, money in a bank account to which the deceased was the sole account holder.  In this situation, the financial institution may ask for a grant of probate before they will release the funds to the executor. Avoiding probate in California with EstateLDA may be very affordable and simple.

As always, when in doubt, consult a qualified attorney. While we often work with and for attorneys, EstateLDA should not replace your attorney.