Revocable Living Trusts:
A Revocable Living Trust is an Estate Plan that allows you to handle your affairs as long as you desire to handle them and remain competent to do so. It sets up instructions for how your Estate should be handled should you not be able to handle your affairs and sets out the distribution of your Estate upon your death.
If you become unable to handle your affairs through either illness or accident, the Successor Trustee of your choosing will take over and follow the instructions set forth in your Trust for handling the Estate during your lifetime. Upon your death the Successor Trustee whom you have appointed will handle your Estate pursuant to your instructions in the Trust.
In order to establish a Trust your assets must be transferred into the name of your Trust so they can be used to take care of your needs during your life time and then transferred to whomever you designated as your beneficiary upon your death. This allows your Successor Trustee to handle your Estate as you have instructed without going through Probate.
In your Trust you can set forth provisions which govern the distribution of your assets, maintaining them in your Trust until the occurrence of a specific event or date at which time they will be distributed. For example where your Estate is being distributed to minors, minors cannot inherit or receive their share of your Estate until they reach the age of majority, which in California is 18 years of age. However, you can instruct your Successor Trustee to provide certain benefits for them, to hold their share of your Estate until they are older, or to distribute only a portion of their share until they have met certain conditions.
Likewise, if you have a beneficiary who is a special needs individual and is receiving government benefits because of their special needs, you can establish a “Special Needs Trust” within your Trust so that person does not directly receive their share of your Estate and lose their benefits.
You can also set up your Trust to take advantage of various tax benefits so you conserve your Estate for your beneficiaries.