You are probably well aware of the existence of a legal document called a last will or last will and testament. This is a commonly utilized estate planning document. A will can be used to state your final wishes regarding the way that you want your assets to be distributed after you pass away.
Some confusion can arise when it comes to estate planning documents that have similar sounding names. In addition to the last will, there is also a legal document called a living will. Because just about everyone is aware of the fact that a last will can be used to facilitate monetary transfers, people sometimes think that a living will does the same thing in a different way.
In fact, a living will is not something that is used to transfer monetary assets. You would use a living will to state your wishes regarding the use of life-sustaining measures. In California, living will-type decisions are typically made in the statutorily authorized document known as an Advance Health Care Directive.
Doctors can sometimes keep people alive for indefinite periods of time using artificial measure such as mechanical respiration and artificial hydration and nutrition. This can be the case even if there is no hope of recovery.
In your living will or Advance Health Care Directive, you record your life-support preferences. Doctors would be compelled to follow your instructions if you were to become incapacitated and unable to communicate.
A living trust is a legal device that is used to facilitate postmortem asset transfers. You could use a living trust as your primary asset transfer vehicle if you want to avoid probate.
If you use a last will as your primary vehicle of asset transfer, the executor or personal representative that you name in the document would be required to admit the will to probate after you die. The probate court would subsequently supervise the administration of the estate.
You probably want your loved ones to receive their inheritances shortly after your passing, but this would not take place if your estate must pass through probate. The process would often take close to a year at minimum, even if there were no particular complications.
Probate can also be expensive, and this is another drawback.
When you convey the property that will comprise your estate into a revocable living trust, the trustee that you name in the trust declaration would follow your instructions after your passing. The assets would be distributed to your beneficiaries, and the probate court would not be involved.
As a result, assets could get into the hands of your loved ones in a more timely fashion.
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If you would like to construct a custom-crafted estate plan that ideally suits your needs, our firm can help. We offer consultations, and we would be glad to provide you with personalized attention.
To set up an appointment, send us a message through our contact page: Sacramento CA Estate Planning Attorneys.