Orange County Trust Attorneys
Often overlooked by parents, a trust is an effective way to pass on their assets to their children. Like a will, a trust can provide a secure transfer of funds from one party (the trustor) to another party (the beneficiary). However, trusts also ensure that the funds are properly managed and overseen by an intermediator (the trustee), who may update it with new assets and properties.
For residents of Orange County, trusts are invaluable methods of securing your legacy and the prosperity of your family. However, preparing and managing a trust can be difficult, especially if you do not have a thorough understanding of California and federal tax laws. If you are considering setting up a trust, contact the Orange County estate planning attorneys at Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie by calling (949) 752-7474.
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Determining what type of trust is best for you will depend on a variety of circumstances. This can range from the age of the intended recipient of the trust to whether or not you would like to modify the trust at a later date. In addition, you may wish to set up a trust for a local Orange County charity or community program.
The standard categories of trusts include:
- Revocable trust: This type of trust can be terminated or changed by the trustor during his or her lifetime.
- Irrevocable trust: Once an irrevocable trust is established, it cannot be changed, as the name implies. Irrevocable trusts are best for minimizing estate taxes or avoiding them altogether.
- Living trust: Also known as an inter-vivos trust, a living trust makes an individual’s assets available for his or her use and benefit during that individual’s lifetime. When the person dies, the assets are transferred to the beneficiaries. A successor trustee is named and charged with transferring the assets. A living trust can be revocable or irrevocable.
- Testamentary trust: This document specifies how an individual’s assets are to be distributed after his or her death. A testamentary trust is also called a will trust. A testamentary trust can only be irrevocable.
- Funded trust: The assets are put into the trust by the trustor during his or her lifetime.
- Unfunded trust: This consists of the trust agreement only, with no funding. Unfunded trusts may become funded upon the death of the trustor.
When you speak to our estate planners, we will perform an in-depth analysis of your finances and assets to help you determine what is best for you and your estate.
People in upper or middle-class income brackets may find a trust useful for a number of reasons, including:
- Safety: Assets are generally safer in a trust than they would be with a family member, who could end up facing a lawsuit, divorce, or another situation that could put those assets at risk.
- Estate planning: In the most common estate planning scenario, assets are passed to a spouse, after which they are equally divided among surviving children. Any child who has not yet reached the age of 18 will need a trustee to control the assets until the child reaches adulthood. It may be important to plan for this possibility if you have minor children, in case both spouses pass away.
- Tax planning: Tax consequences may be lower with a trust than with other estate planning alternatives, such as a will. Trusts are a standard tool used for tax planning purposes among both corporations and individuals.
- Better control of your assets: The terms of a trust can be very specific. You can use this instrument to control who receives what assets and when after your death. You can also set up a revocable trust that allows you to maintain access to your assets during your lifetime, while specifying who remaining assets will pass to. A trust can be a valuable tool in complex family situations.
- Protecting a loved one: Trusts can provide a steady stream of income for your family members and be extremely difficult when they have difficulties managing their money. It can also provide care for a physically or mentally handicapped dependent.
- Avoiding probate and preserving privacy: The terms of a will may be public in some jurisdictions. A trust can allow assets to pass to your beneficiaries outside of probate and help keep those assets private.
- Qualifying for Medicaid while still preserving a portion of your assets: This may be important for individuals with certain health conditions.
Trusts are useful legal instruments, with rules that have been simplified by the IRS over the past one and a half decades. Properly constructed, they can allow you to retain control of your assets, provide for your family, and minimize tax consequences. Our Orange County estate planning attorneys at Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie have the knowledge and experience to effectively structure a trust, along with all your estate planning documents. Contact us at (949) 752-7474 to learn how we can help secure your family’s future.
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