If you own California real estate, you should establish a living trust and transfer all your real estate and other assets to the trust. It will save your family a great deal of stress, a lot of time and thousands of dollars in legal costs at the time of your death, by avoiding probate. A trust will also save your family time and money by avoiding a conservatorship if you are incapacitated.
If you have a will, but no trust, your children will not be able to do anything with your assets without going through a court probate process. A probate could take at least nine months if not longer before your children could receive their inheritance. All of your assets become public knowledge because the estate has to file an inventory with the court. Also the amount of money given to each beneficiary will become public in the court’s order for distribution.
Trusts avoid those problems. For example if your trust is called “The Sam and Mary Jones Trust dated June 1, 2012”, and the trustee is Sally Jones, title would be transferred to the trustee by preparing a new deed under the name “Sally Jones, Trustee of The Sam and Mary Jones Trust dated June 1, 2012”. Your trust document should also name a successor trustee in case your trustee can no longer serve, becomes incapacitated or dies before you.
A California probate attorney can prepare the transfer of ownership deed to your trust, record it with the County Recorder’s Office in the county where the property is located and also help you with the transfer of other assets to your trust. You might also want to speak with a financial advisor if you are transferring retirement accounts and changing beneficiaries to make sure there are no tax consequences.