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Trusts, Wills, Probate Overview

Trusts, Wills and Probate

The revocable or Living Trust is the most common type of trust used today. Most prepare a Living Trust either to avoid probate court for the distribution of their belongings, or for a married couple, to reduce estate taxes. In addition to Living Trusts, other irrevocable trusts, such as life insurance trusts, gift trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, charitable lead trusts, charitable remainder trusts and others can accomplish a variety of tax and distribution goals.

A Will is used to identify those who will receive certain property after a person dies. For parents of minor children, one of the most important directions in a will is telling the court who you wish to be the guardian for your children.  A "pour-over" will is an ordering will that leaves all assets to a trust instead of directly to beneficiaries.

Without a Living Trust, property will most likely be put through probate, regardless of whether or not a will exists. The court will determine and order property to be given to its rightful successors whether by will or intestate succession. This process usually lasts at least six months and often more than a year. In some cases, even without a Living Trust, probate can be avoided. In the absence of a Will or Living Trust, property will be divided according to rules set by the California legislature.