A Living Trust is a written document that places your assets into a Trust. This Trust becomes effective immediately upon the creation of the Trust itself. Under the Trust document, a Trustee is appointed. A Trustee is a person who controls the Trust and therefore controls the property contained in the Trust. The Trust document specifies exactly how your assets shall be distributed upon your death. A Living Trust can be revoked and may be modified. In addition, property can be added to the Trust at any time. A Living Trust must be signed, witnessed and acknowledged by a Notary Public. The creation of a Living Trust will allow your loved ones to avoid Probate after your death.
The cost for an entire Estate Plan, which includes a Revocable Living Trust, Pour-over Will, Power of Attorney for Financial and Power of Attorney for Healthcare is:
$750 for a Single Person
$1,000 for a Married Couple
$150 for Witnessing and Notarizing
$350 per Property Transferred into your Trust ($400 Outside Orange County; $600 Out of State)
Click the button to download a Living Trust Questionnaire
A Will is a document that provides specific instructions for the distribution of your property upon your death. A Will becomes effective upon the death of the individual who created the Will. In addition, a Will may contain other provisions to ensure that your wishes are included in the document, such as specific last requests and guardianship of children. A Will allows for the appointment of an Executor who will distribute the property according to the provisions in the Will. A Will must be signed and witnessed. A Will can be changed at any time prior to your death. Upon your death, a Will usually goes through Probate. The cost for a Will is $250.
The Benefits of Setting up a Living Trust
Avoid Probate: Save your loved ones the cost, stress and delay of going through the legal process.
Step Up in Basis: A Step up in basis means that your beneficiary’s will receive a readjustment of the value of an appreciated asset for tax purposes upon inheritance. For instance if you purchased your property for $250,000 but the value at the time of your death is $1 million then your beneficiary(ies) will inherit the property with the basis of $1 million which means they don’t have to pay taxes on the increased value.
The Personal Estate Tax Exemption: The personal exemption allows a set dollar amount of property to pass tax-free, no matter who inherits it. For deaths in 2017, the individual exemption is $5.49 million. The amount is indexed for inflation, so it will probably increase in future years. If you have made taxable gifts during your life, the amount of your personal exemption will be reduced by the amount of those taxable gifts.
The Marital Deduction: All property left to a surviving spouse passes free of estate tax. (I.R.C. § 2056(a).) The marital deduction is not allowed for property left to non-citizen spouses, but the personal estate tax exemption can be used for property left to non-citizen spouses.
The Charitable Deduction: All property left to a tax-exempt charity is also free of estate tax. (I.R.C. § 2055(a).)
Special Rules For Married Couples: A surviving spouse gets a big tax break. If the deceased spouse didn’t use up his or her individual tax exemption, the survivor can use what’s left. That gives the couple a total exemption of twice the individual exemption amount, which can be split between them in any way that provides the greatest tax benefit. For example, say a man dies and leaves $4 million to his widow; no estate tax is owed because property left to a spouse is tax-free. The widow then dies, leaving $7 million (her own $3 million plus the $4 million she inherited from her husband) to their children.
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