What Is the Difference Between a Will and Living Trust in California?

Law Office of Robert L. Firth May 20, 2020

You have several planning tools to consider as you work with your attorney to draft your estate plan. Two of your primary options are a will and living trust. Some choose to use one or the other, while others utilize both. Understanding the difference between a will and living trust in California helps you decide which option best suits you.

What Is a Living Trust in California?

A living trust is an entity you create before you pass away. The trust maintains ownership of the property you transfer into it. You can remain the trustee and maintain control over your assets until you pass, at which point the named replacement trustee takes responsibility for your assets.

With a trust, you can also name a trustee to manage the trust if you become incapacitated. A living trust also provides for the administration of your assets without the need for a supervised conservatorship in the event of your mental incompetency (e.g. stroke or dementia).

Since the trust owns the property, your assets typically do not have to go through probate when you pass away. This process saves your beneficiaries a substantial amount of time and money. It also alleviates stress during a difficult time.

How a Will Differs From a Living Trust

A will is the most well-known estate planning tool. This document can leave instructions regarding your burial and funeral wishes. It can also explain how you want your property to be distributed, and who you want to care for your minor children.

Assets included in a will must go through probate. During probate, the court validates the will and ensures that final debts are paid before allowing beneficiaries to take ownership of assets.

Will vs. Living Trust in California

Each of these options has benefits. Working with our Palm Springs living trust attorney can help you decide whether you want to create a living trust, a will or both. Key differences between a will and living trust in California include:

  • A will allows you to name a guardian for your minor children, while a trust does not.

  • A trust avoids probate, but assets included in a will must go through probate.

  • A will only becomes active after you die, so it does not allow for asset management if you become incapacitated.

  • A trust allows you to space out the delivery of assets to beneficiaries, but a will does not have this capability.

When you choose a living trust lawyer, make sure you choose a firm with a dedicated estate planning attorney. Our Palm Springs living trust attorney can look at your vision for your family and find a way to help you achieve it.

Contact Our Palm Springs Estate Planning Attorney Today

You need a living trust lawyer who can handle your family’s unique needs and goals. Our client testimonials demonstrate our ability to help each client achieve peace of mind with a thorough estate plan.

When you are ready to start planning for your family’s future, contact attorney Robert Firth at the Law Offices of Robert L. Firth. Call us today or contact us online and we will be in touch with you soon.