*What is the difference between having a Will and a Trust?
If you have a Will, your estate is required to go through Probate (a court process) unless your gross estate totals less than $150,000. However, if you have a trust, administration of your estate is handled privately without court involvement.
*What is "probate" and how can I avoid it by having a trust?
Probate is the court process of distributing your property. It is expensive and slow, and all of the records pertaining to the process become public record. With a living trust, you choose a Trustee to handle your affairs and distribute your property according to your wishes more quickly, cheaply and privately than going through probate.
*Isn't estate planning only for very wealthy people?
Estate planning is an important step for anyone who owns real estate or has assets with a total gross value of over $150,000. People with minor children, children from different marriages, or disabled heirs should also consider getting their legal affairs in order. Estate planning can protect whatever you have, even if your total assets are minimal.
*Can't I just handle estate planning by myself?
Some of the most common errors are made when individuals attempt to use standard "do it yourself" forms. Typically, the amount of money saved by preparing documents yourself or working with a low cost document-preparation service could cost a lot of money later on in estate taxes, property taxes, capital gains taxes, or other penalties. Hiring a professional to properly create your estate plan now may cost much less than having your family try to correct the errors after you die.
Still have questions of your own? Contact Lisa today at Lisa@TrustLawLA.com or (818) 224-6063 and get them answered!