Ventura Revocable Trusts

Two women sign documents

If you are planning your estate, one of the significant challenges to overcome is the prospect of your family engaging in a lengthy and possibly contentious probate process. One way of avoiding this eventuality is to establish a revocable living trust as a part of your estate plan. In addition to protecting your family members, this tool may also have tax benefits. However, setting up a trust can be full of pitfalls, and even seemingly minor mistakes can undermine your plans.

Establishing your revocable living trust with the help of an experienced California estate planning attorney can give you peace of mind. The seasoned team at the Law Offices of Brian L. Fox, APLC, has been helping clients meet their estate planning goals for over thirty years. With us on your side, you will have the advice and support you need to protect your family, assets, and future. Contact us today for a confidential consultation to learn more about how we can help.

What Is a Revocable Living Trust?

A revocable living trust is a valuable legal tool that allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to a trust while you are alive. As the grantor, you can name yourself as the trustee, maintaining control over the assets while you are alive. You also name beneficiaries who will receive the assets upon your death. The primary purpose of a revocable living trust is to avoid probate, a lengthy and often expensive legal process that oversees the distribution of your assets after you pass away.

One key element of a revocable living trust is that it can be amended or revoked during your lifetime. As long as you are mentally competent, you can make changes to it. This flexibility lets you adapt your estate plan as your life circumstances change, such as having a new child, a divorce, or acquiring new assets.

Terms to Know

When setting up a revocable living trust in California, you should know these key terms:

  • Grantor — The individual who creates the trust and transfers their assets into it is known as the grantor (also known as the trustor or settlor).
  • Trustee — The trustee is the party responsible for managing the trust’s assets according to the trust document’s terms. The grantor often serves as the initial trustee.
  • Beneficiary — The beneficiary is the party designated to receive the trust assets upon the grantor’s death. Beneficiaries can be individuals, charities, or other organizations.
  • Successor Trustee — A successor trustee is a person or entity named to take over the management of the trust after the initial trustee’s death, incapacitation, or resignation.
  • Pour-Over Will — A pour-over will is a legal document used in conjunction with a revocable living trust that ensures any assets not transferred into the trust during the grantor’s lifetime are “poured over” into the trust upon their death.

How Does a Revocable Living Trust Work?

You create a revocable living trust when you, as the grantor, execute a trust document and transfer your assets into the trust. This process is known as “funding” the trust. Once you fund the trust, you can manage the assets as the trustee, making investment decisions and distributing funds according to the terms of the trust.

While you are alive, you can amend or revoke the trust as needed, giving you flexibility in managing your assets and adapting to changing life circumstances. You can also name a successor trustee to take over the management of the trust if you become incapacitated or pass away.

Upon your death, the successor trustee will distribute the trust assets to your designated beneficiaries according to the trust document’s terms. Because the assets are held in the trust, they avoid the probate process, saving your beneficiaries time and money.

What Are the Advantages and Benefits?

There are several key advantages and benefits to setting up a revocable living trust as part of your estate plan:

  • Avoiding Probate — One of the main reasons for creating a revocable living trust is to avoid the probate process. Transferring your assets to a trust ensures they pass directly to your beneficiaries without court intervention.
  • Maintaining Control — With a revocable living trust, you can maintain control over your assets during your lifetime. As the trustee, you can make investment decisions, sell or purchase assets, and distribute income and principal according to your needs and wishes.
  • Flexibility — A revocable living trust allows you to change your estate plan as your life circumstances evolve. You can change the trust anytime during your lifetime, as long as you are mentally competent.
  • Privacy — Unlike a living will, which becomes a public record during the probate process, your revocable living trust will remain private. This can help protect your family’s privacy and prevent others from knowing the details of your estate plan.
  • Incapacity Planning — A revocable living trust can also serve as an incapacity planning tool. If an illness or injury prevents you from managing your financial affairs, your successor trustee can manage the trust assets on your behalf.

Contact an Experienced California Estate Planning Attorney Today

If you feel nervous about what will happen to your assets when you are gone or whether your loved ones will have the support they need, know that you are not alone. While establishing a robust plan to protect your assets and your family can feel overwhelming, working with a knowledgeable and skilled estate planning attorney can give you confidence that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes. 

The seasoned team at the Law Offices of Brian L. Fox offers dedicated legal services to clients in Santa Barbara and Ventura County. Contact us today for a confidential consultation with an experienced California estate planning attorney.