Trusts & Trust Administration
Revocable Living Trusts will have at least one, possibly two, administrations where an attorney’s assistance will be required.
If a Trustmaker becomes mentally or physically incapacitated a successor trustee will take on the responsibility of managing the Trustmakers’ care for the remainder of the Trustmaker’s life, and ensuring the Trustmakers’ family is maintained in manner to which they have become accustomed. This requires control of the estate’s assets to manage and maintain, paying bills and arranging and overseeing care.
After a Trustmaker dies a successor trustee administers the estate according to the terms of the trust. This could be simply paying the final bills and expenses and distributing assets outright to all the beneficiaries or it may involve arranging for the ongoing running of a business, appraising and liquidating extensive collections and overseeing assets in trust for beneficiaries pursuant to specific distribution provisions for a period of years.
For married couples, the death of the first Trustmaker triggers the need for administration necessary to protect assets against future estate tax exposure along with some specific planning options that must be exercised within 9 months otherwise they are lost.
Wills & Probate
In California if someone dies with just a Will and no Living Trust, or they die with no Will at all, then the lengthy, public and expensive legal process of Probate must be completed before any of the assets can be passed on according to the terms of the Will.
Attorney fees for Probate in California are set by law and are based on the size and fair market value of the assets of the estate, not just the equity which is one reason Probate in California is so expensive.
Wills are less expensive and easier to set up than trusts, but much more expensive overall to administer after death. Trusts on the other hand are more expensive to set up then Wills but are far less expensive overall to administer after death in addition to being private and immediate.