Jennifer Elliott, in San Clemente, CA is highly revered by her clients for her deep understanding of probate laws and her ability to devise an estate plan that saves you from the unnecessary time, money, and effort involved with the probate process.
Why You Need To Avoid Probate:
- Long & Arduous Process: Courts in Southern California will take a minimum of 18 months to work through the probate process, sometimes even longer, and the worst part is that during that time you’ll have limited or no access to your assets.
- Very Expensive: Up to 4% of the total value of your assets being probated are permitted by the probate code for both the attorney and the administrator in addition to court costs and other expenses. This means an average Southern California estate of $1 million will cost approximately $49,000 in probate expense. This is money that will never go to your loved ones.
- No Privacy: All of your assets and the names and addresses of the beneficiaries will be set forth for public display, inviting your creditors and other opportunists to gather your personal information.
- Limited Control Over Distributions: Your children would receive your inheritance when they’re 18 years old. A scary thought! Scarier, if the court appoints someone you don’t know to manage the assets for your minor children. Often the appointed party will charge high fees further reducing the amount of monies received by your children.
Commonly Asked Questions About Probate
How To Avoid Probate
Avoiding a probate isn’t a difficult task if you do it at the right time and in the right way. The right time is NOW, and the right way is a revocable living trust – a tool or a legal entity of your estate plan created to manage and protect your assets as you age. It covers three phases of your life:
- While you’re alive and well,
- when you’re mentally and/or physically incapable of functioning, and
- after your death.
Making a living trust the foundation of your estate plan helps you bypass the costly, time-consuming, and public process of probate (due to death). It also helps you detour the conservator-ship court in case you’re mentally incapacitated.
Funding Your Trust
Signing a revocable living trust agreement isn’t enough in itself for evading probate after you die. The next essential thing you’ll need to do is re-titling your assets in the name of your trust. This process is called funding the trust.
FUNDING OF THE TRUST IS ACCOMPLISHED IN SEVERAL DIFFERENT WAYS:
- Changing the title of your assets (Cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, airplanes, etc.) from your name to the name of the trust.
- Assigning your interest in assets without a title (such as artwork, jewelry, furniture, tool, books, laptops, collectibles or antiques) to your trust by transferring with an assignment of ownership document, which must be signed and dated.
- Re-titling your interests in partnerships and LLCs, and shares in a corporation in the name of your trust.
Fate Of The Assets Left Out Of Trust
You’ll keep acquiring new assets in your name throughout your life, and missing any of them from re-titling in the name of your trust or funding in your trust will simply invite probate unless they have a beneficiary designation or are owned with rights of survivorship with someone. Never stop funding your trust with your assets.
Consult with your San Clemente probate attorney before purchasing new assets to find out how to title account or deed or who to designate as the beneficiary.
Who Has Control Over The Assets
To have complete control over your assets in your trust, you’ll have to name yourself as the trustee. One key benefit here is you can continue to buy and sell assets just as you do, and you can also remove assets from your living trust should you ever decide to do so.
Why Funding Your Trust Is Important
Funding your trust makes it possible to obtain the best results from your trust-based estate plan:
- Your Trustee Will Control Your Assets: It will avoid your assets from going into the hands of a court appointed conservator in case you become mentally incapacitated, and from a probate judge in case you die. In both cases, your trustee will control your assets.
- Freedom of Investment Management: Your trustee will have direct access without needing a court order to your assets in case you become mentally incapable or pass away. Also, they’ll have the authority of managing, investing, selling, and re-investing your trust assets without any court intervention.
- Keeps Your Estate Away from Prying Eyes: A trust is a private document that isn’t subject to probate, so you don’t have to worry about prying eyes that can learn the details of the size and recipients of your estate.
- Easier to Update: Allows you to make amendments to the trust due to any change in your wishes and circumstances.