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Los Angeles Living Trusts


Los Angeles & San Fernando Valley Trusts:  Help with Revocable Trust, Irrevocable Trust and Family Trust maters.


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Los Angeles Living Trusts


What is a Living Trust?

Los Angeles Living Trusts can be good tools for estate planing.  A trust is a vital component of an estate plan, also referred to as a revocable trust and family trust, and one of the most important part of estate planning documents prepared for you while you are alive. Our expert trust consultants can advise you regarding the nuances of setting up a trust in Los Angeles. In order for a Trust to work properly, you must transfer most of your assets to your living trust. Title to some assets cannot be transferred to the trust, such as IRA accounts. While you are alive and well, you are the Trustee of the Trust. Since you are the trustee, you manage the day-to-day operations of the Trust while you are alive and well. Normally, while you are alive and have capacity, the Trust is revocable. This means that you have full control over the assets and that can spend all the money in the Trust, revoke or cancel the Trust, amend or change the terms of the Trust, and change any of the beneficiaries of the Trust. You select one or more successor trustees in your Trust document. The successor trustee is the person or persons who will manage the Trust after you are no longer able to do so.

Why prepare or set up a Living Trust?

In the event of your incapacity or death, the Successor Trustee steps in and manages the Trust for you. If properly funded, the selection of the successor trustee is a very helpful estate planning tool in avoiding a conservatorship proceeding. The successor Trustee can give you income and principal for your needs while you are alive. Normally, the primary successor trustee is your spouse, if you are married. For most unmarried persons, the Successor Trustee can be a child, a family member, a friend,  a fiduciary, or a bank trust department.  Los Angeles Living Trust & Family Trust consultants protect you, your assets and your family.

Probate Avoidance and Cost Savings

Assets which are properly transferred to the Trust normally escape Probate. Estate Planning can result in a significant savings to your heirs. Probate Fees in California are Statutory and Extra-Ordinary and can range between two percent and ten percent of your estate.

2020 Tax Planning Opportunities

In case of married persons, the Trust can take advantage of the unlimited Marital Deduction and can be set up to save a substantial amount of estate taxes. Each person is allowed to transfer a certain limit during their lifetime, or after their death, tax-free.  As of 2020, the federal estate tax exemption and gift tax exemption are:  $11.58 million per individual. This means that a married couple will be able to shield $23.16 million. The annual gift exclusion amount remains the same at $15,000.   The annual gift tax exclusion does not count towards the $11.58 million.

Portability lets the surviving spouse use the estate tax exemption of the deceased spouse under certain conditions. Portability has requirements, which if not met prevent the survivor from using the decedent's unused exemption. When one spouse passes away, the Trust is divided into two SubTrusts. One Trust is called the Decedent's Trust and the other Trust is called the Survivor's Trust. An election to use the decedent's unused exemption has to be made. The Decedent's Trust contains the deceased spouse's marital share of the assets. The Decedent's Trust becomes irrevocable on the death of the first spouse. To protect the Decedent Spouse's wishes, the surviving spouse cannot change this portion of the Trust. However, all income of the Decedent's Trust will normally be paid out to the surviving spouse. The principal of the Decedent's trust is available to the surviving spouse if he or she needs it for his or her health, education, support or maintenance. When the surviving spouse passes away, the balance of each SubTrust is paid out to the beneficiaries of that Trust.

The surviving spouse's share is called the Survivor's Trust. The Survivor's SubTrust remains revocable by the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse can spend all the assets in the Survivor's Trust, can amend or change that SubTrust, can change the beneficiaries, and can revoke or cancel the Trust. The entire income and principal of this SubTrust are paid to the surviving spouse. When the surviving spouse passes away, the remaining balance of the Survivor's Trust is paid out to the beneficiaries of the Survivor's Trust.

One benefit of AB Trust planning is that both spouses can make use of the Exemption Equivalent Amount, thus taking advantage of a significant tax savings, and also to insure that the decedent's wishes are complied with by the surviving spouse.

A Revocable Trust and Family Trust are common references to a living trust.  However, there are many other types of living trusts.  An Irrevocable Trust comes in many varieties as well, such as an intentionally defective grantor irrevocable trust, or a non-grantor irrevocable trust.  Many types of charitable trusts are also irrevocable. Asset protection trusts sometimes help with Medi-Call planning, such as a Medi-Cal Trust or Medi-Cal asset protection trust.

For most people, the main benefit of createive and proper Trust planning is that the estate can avoid probate. The heirs can benefit by between two and ten percent of the gross estate by proper estate planning. Additionally, an estate plan can eliminate a substantial amount of time taken in Probate Administration and the fees and costs of probate.

Places like Legalzoom and WeThePeople are not established to handle complex planning, special needs planning or estate tax related matters.   Our experts can help you with complex trust matters.

This article and our e-course are not intended to replace specific advice of an attorney and each is intended to be educational only. We highly recommend that you meet with a qualified estate planning attorney for specific advice regarding your estate and for professional preparation of all legal documents.

During the stay-at-home orders, we offer virtual living trust services in Los Angeles and all of California.  Set up your virtual living trust by an appointment here.


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