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Protecting Your Estate With Wills And Trusts

Creating a will is a great privilege that our legal system offers each of us. Estate planning is important for everyone, and most estate plans include some variation of one or more of the following:

  • A simple will specifying an executor (personal representative) and how assets should be distributed
  • A will that incorporates one or more trusts such as those described below
  • Standalone trust documents, such as:
    • Revocable trusts, also called living trusts, which allow one or more designated trustees to manage property without taking the assets through probate court, according to the wishes of the person making the trust, in case of incapacity and after death
    • Irrevocable trusts designed to protect the wealth generated from assets from being taxed during a person’s lifetime and allow for distribution of the assets after death outside of the probate process. California allows for changes to irrevocable trusts under very narrow specific circumstances
    • Asset protection trusts designed to protect assets from creditors, excessive taxation, undesirable beneficiaries such as divorced in-laws, business partners, or other individuals or entities
    • Charitable trusts that may designate a church, university, charitable organization or other recipients expressing the deceased person’s values and chosen legacy
  • A pour-over will to account for assets not entitled to a trust

The Benefits Of Having An Estate Plan

Every adult with any assets or family members should have an estate plan.  Even a simple will can prevent family members from having to spend extra time and effort completing necessary steps to free up the assets of a deceased person efficiently. A will that is properly signed can also prevent disputes among family members and/or creditors. More complete and complex wills may fulfill functions such as:

  • Naming preferred guardians of minor children
  • Expressing thoughtful reflections about one’s intended legacy
  • Providing detailed designation of key assets to be left to beneficiaries

When Should You Update Wills And Trusts?

Most estate planning attorneys advise clients to review wills and trusts about every five years and/or after major life changes, such as:

  • Interstate moves
  • Divorce
  • Changes in family makeup due to deaths, marriages, divorces, or the birth or adoption of children
  • Significant changes in asset portfolios

Griswold LaSalle Cobb Dowd & Gin LLP Customizes Estate Planning Services

From offices in Hanford, California, our law firm has served the San Joaquin Valley since 1945. Our attorneys’ combined experience totals more than 200 years. We are community-minded and client-focused.

It is our pleasure to answer questions about wills, trusts and probate, and to offer peace of mind to many through our thoughtful, individualized estate planning services. To schedule a consultation, call 559-821-7440 or send an email through this website.