Questions About Your Trust? We Have Answers

Frequently Asked Questions About Trusts

Answers from an Orange County Trust Attorney

Below are questions we frequently receive concerning trusts. The answers are for general information and not intended as legal advice. For answers to any further questions, it is advised that you contact the Orange County trust lawyer at our firm.

What is a revocable living trust?

This is a trust in which you retain the right to control the funds during your lifetime. You set yourself up as the original trustee and name a secondary trustee to take over in case of your incapacity. If you become incapacitated, your secondary trustee can gain access to your funds and take care of you and your family. When you die the secondary trustee continues to run the trust and disposes of the money as you directed in your trust document. This allows for avoidance of probate and provision of your family's needs without interruption.

What are the benefits of an irrevocable trust?

Here you put your assets in a trust and name another as the trustee such as a bank. You give instructions to the trustee to provide for you and your family's needs as you wish. The advantage is that the funds are no longer technically yours. This means the funds are safe from execution if you are sued. You can also lower your total assets to qualify for Veterans benefits immediately or Medicaid benefits after five years. Finally, as the money is not part of your estate, it allows for avoidance of probate and is immune from estate taxes.

How best can I provide for a mentally incompetent child?

You set up a special needs trust. You put the money in a trust with a bank or responsible person as trustee. The trustee is authorized to look out for the incompetent dependent's needs. This is better than giving the money directly to the child as the child would then be ineligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits. It is better than giving the money directly to a relative because the relative could not be forced to spend the money on the child or might lose it to creditors in lawsuits or pass it to others at death.

What are my responsibilities as the trustee of an estate?

When someone is named the trustee of an estate, the deceased owner of the estate has given up the responsibility of managing their own assets and property to the appointed trustee. In doing so, it means that the trustee is legally bound to properly execute the wishes of the deceased through the guidelines that have been set out through a will—including any instructions on how the beneficiaries are to be included. If you have been named the trustee of an estate, it is a big responsibility. For this reason, you should not wait to consult an experienced attorney.

What are the benefits of making a trust?

A trust not only allows certain provisions for your property, but also helps you maximize your assets' worth for your heirs. A properly created trust can allow you to avoid the probate court, dispensing with expensive fees and a lengthy court process. This will allow your beneficiaries to receive more of your assets, instead of going to the courts. Another benefit to trusts is that you can specify how your money is to be used by your heirs. Those who cannot responsibly handle your property will not have access to them unless they use it for a specific purpose or until they come of age.

If you want to avoid disputes, then a trust can help because of the time and effort involved in pursuing a claim. To contest your trust, persons have to go through the civil court, not the probate court. This can take months and costs much more than contesting a will. When you create a trust, you will also have more privacy than when you have a will, as trusts are not open for public record as wills are. Find out how a trust can benefit your situation by asking an estate planning lawyer at our firm.

Do I need to make a trust?

Trusts are not only for the privileged and wealthy. Many people can get benefits from their own trust.

If you are in any of the following situations, you should greatly consider making a trust:

  • Own a business or real estate
  • Need to provide for a person with special needs
  • Want protection from creditors
  • Want to leave stipulations for your money
  • Want to avoid probate court
  • Want to give assets to your children before spouse's death

Talk to an estate planning lawyer from the firm if any of these circumstances applies to you. A trust could help ensure that your assets are properly used in the event that you become unable to dictate how they should be used.

Still have questions?

If you still have questions about trusts that have been left unanswered, we urge you to contact an Orange County estate planning attorney from our firm today. By taking the time to speak to a legal professional, you may be able to avoid the hassle of being unprepared later. Creating a trust can lead to the avoidance of probate in the future, so do not hesitate to explore all of these important options now.

Schedule a free case evaluation today to see how P. Arnsen Blakely can help you.

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