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Understanding Trusts in California

Trusts are an important method of protecting your assets and planning for the future. Trusts grant a great deal of flexibility on how to handle your assets as well as how to avoid the probate process. This can save money in administrative costs and taxes.

A trust can be an integral part of your estate planning and with an experienced California estate planning attorney at your side, you can create a trust that fits you and your family's needs.

How is Trust defined in California?

A trust is a legal document that partially substitutes for a will. It allows the person wishing to control his or her assets (the testator) to control those assets that meet his or her specific purposes. There are a variety of different trust types, each with its own unique purpose and advantages:

  • Living Trust: A living trust allows a testator to put assets into the trust, which are then administered by a trustee. In many cases, the testator names him or herself the initial trustee, allowing control of the assets during the testator's life. The trust can be revoked or changed at any time, and a secondary trustee can be named in the case of the testator's death or incapacity.
  • Special Needs Trust: Special needs trusts are created specifically for the benefit of disabled or mentally ill persons. The trust holds assets, under the control of a named trustee, to protect the interests of the beneficiary.
  • Charitable Trust: A charitable trust allows a person to place assets in the trust with significant tax benefits. The trust must be for a specific, approved charitable purpose.

Other less common types of trusts exist, and with the help of an experienced California trust attorney, your specific needs can be met with the right type of trust.

Advantages of California Trusts

There are a wide variety of advantages that a trust can offer. The following are some of the main benefits.

Avoiding Probate

Probate is a legal process of distributing assets after a person dies with or without a will. The probate process, especially in California, can be expensive and very time-consuming. Your beneficiaries and/or heirs may wait a great deal of time before the assets are properly distributed to them.

Control of Assets

A trust allows you to name who will control the trust during your life and after your death or incapacity. A trust document spells out in great detail both who and how your assets will be controlled under a variety of different circumstances. A trust also allows you to control how your assets are distributed after your death.

Revocation of Trusts

Certain types of trusts are revocable, meaning they can be terminated or changed at any time. This allows the testator to maintain control of his or her assets for the current situation but granting the needed flexibility to make changes when necessary.

Changing or Unexpected Circumstances

One of the great risks of not having a trust is if circumstances suddenly and unexpectedly change. When contingency plans are well laid out in the trust document language and the proper control is given to the trustee, changing situations can be handled to properly protect the trust beneficiaries.

Consult a California Estate Planning Attorney

Creating a trust is an important method in creating control over your assets and finances to protect your family's future. Attorney Lauren Rios has years of legal experience and will put that experience to work for you in creating your trusts.

She represents clients throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. Contact the Law Office of Lauren Rios today either online or at (650) 727-0900.

Why Choose Our Firm


Our counsel is distinguished in our profession for many reasons. One that we pride ourselves the most in, is the fact that our professionals are experienced and totally committed to tending to each and every one of our client's estate needs and concerns.

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Redwood City, CA 94062
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