A Living Trust
A living trust is an essential part of estate planning and in the organization of your assets. In California, this trust is a written legal document that allows you to put your assets in a trust for the duration of your lifetime. A trustee manages the trust both when you are alive and after you pass, at which point the assets are distributed to your beneficiaries.
The trustee of your living trust can be another individual, institution, or even yourself. If you designate yourself as the trustee, you will have to control and manage the assets during your lifetime. However, a successor trustee can also be chosen for when you pass or choose to no longer manage the assets directly. On the other hand, another entity can be chosen as your trustee if you do not wish and/or do not have the time to manage the trust. If someone professional is chosen (not your spouse, child, or another relative) they must be licensed and registered with the State of California.
The living trust also gives other powers to your trustee. Most importantly, their maintenance of your assets must be to your benefit. Furthermore, they must control the assets in such a way that adheres to fiduciary guidelines and standards. Once you have passed, the trustee must ensure the proper distribution of your assets to your designated beneficiaries.
In setting up a trust and appointing a responsible trustee, you can make sure that your assets are managed according to your own instructions, even once you pass. Your beneficiaries will also be ensured a much more direct distribution of your assets as these assets will not be subject to probate, which is a time-consuming and costly process. While there are some negatives (the trust is also not recommended for every single person), your attorney can help you decide if a living trust is beneficial for you.