Probate is a long, expensive process in California. It’s not unusual for probate to last for a year or longer, especially for large estates. While California law caps the amount that attorneys and personal representatives can charge during probate, most people pay thousands of dollars. Revocable living trusts give California residents a legal way to avoid probate. Assets that are inside of the trust bypass probate, allowing beneficiaries to receive them immediately. The process is private, so you also don’t have to worry about people getting detailed information about your estate. The same is not true if it passes through probate. That’s a matter of public record, so anyone can find out how much you were worth when you passed away and what your loved ones received. That can be uncomfortable for the heirs, so many people prefer to create revocable living trusts.
When you create a trust, you will choose between an irrevocable or revocable living trust. With few exceptions, irrevocable trusts are set in stone, meaning you cannot amend them. However, you can make changes to revocable living trusts. Many people amend these trusts after undergoing a major life change, such as a marriage or divorce. However, you are not limited to specific reasons to change a revocable trust.
Many people think their trust is funded, only to realize they didn’t put any assets in it. If that happens to you, your beneficiaries will have to go through probate. You can get some protection by including a pour-over will in your estate plan. Assets not in the trust will still have to go through probate, but then, your executor can transfer them to the trust. Once inside the trust, they will be subject to the rules and guidelines set forth by the trust.