Many people in and around Redding, California, have probably heard of revocable living trusts, as they are a rather popular estate planning device these days.
To review, a person, or couple, who wants to create a revocable living trust will first prepare the trust document creating the trust. At least initially, they will be named trustees of the trust and may also be primary beneficiaries, that is, the first in line to receive proceeds from the trust. As the name implies, they will retain the ability to dissolve, or revoke, the trust at any time.
While this device has limited value with respect to saving money on taxes or protecting eligibility for benefits, it does have several other advantages. The biggest advantage, arguably, is that it will greatly simplify the probate process, as someone with a revocable living trust will likely require only a very simple will. Ideally, all of their property will already be in the name of the trust at the time of death.
Avoiding probate is particularly important when a family has concerns about their privacy or when they have property in multiple states or even across the world.
Unlike probate proceedings, the terms of a trust are designed to remain out of the public eye, meaning that curious citizens cannot explore the family's financial affairs with a trip to the courthouse.
Also, the trust can organize property located in several states, meaning that a family will not have to probate in multiple jurisdictions in order to collect the deceased's property.
While revocable living trusts are definitely something Californians should consider as an option, they are not the best choice in all circumstances. Speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney about whether a revocable living trust is a good first step for interested parties to take.