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California Trusts and Wills

Wills v. trusts or is it trusts v. wills or is it really wills AND trusts!? I get into this discussion a lot with my clients.  Many people do not realize that in a proper California estate plan you will have BOTH a will AND a trust. You can read my more formal article on the topic athttp://www.californiaprobate.info/estate-planning/wills-v-trusts

A trust, as you likely already know, avoids probate after death.  This is a good thing to avoid as it’s costly and time consuming.  However, there are many reasons that you also need a simple “pour over” will as part of your estate plan. In fact, there is a whole package of documents in a proper estate plan as follows:

1) Revocable Trust;

2) Pour over Will;

3) Power of Attorney for financial affairs or “durable power of attorney;”

4) Power of Attorney for medical affairs or “living will” or “health care directive;”

5) Certified Extract of Trust;

6) General Transfer;

7) Hippa release;

8) Quitclaim deed;

9) Bank letters.

Today we are focusing on the will as this blog is about having a California trust AND will or will AND trust if you prefer.

A will serves many purposes. These purposes may include:

1) Putting assets into the trust after death if they weren’t there before death;

2) Appointing someone to sign tax returns after death;

3) Appointing a guardian of minor children;

4) Distribution of personal property like furniture, collectibles, and the like;

5) Creating a no-contest clause valid for your whole estate plan.

Thus, the will does a lot. Though it’s a separate document from the trust it is very important.  Also, though we hope it doesn’t have to be used to “pour over” assets it is a nice back up to have and helps us to complete Heggstad petitions when we need to do those.  You can read about those on many blog posts.

The point is do not think of wills and trusts as two options. They are not. They are two separate documents which go hand in hand.

Contact me with questions.  -John

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10.0John Bernard Palley
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