Wills, Trusts, and Probate
There are many different questions that people may have about the estate planning process and what will happen to their assets after they pass. Having an estate plan is a critical way to ensure that your wishes will be carried out after your death, although it is not a legal requirement. The State of California has a specific process called Probate in place to handle estates when the decedent did not create a probate avoiding estate plan at the time of his or her death. If you recently lost a loved one, you are probably coping with your loss as well as trying to navigate the legal procedures involved with the probate process. All of these factors can become daunting, and it can be difficult to determine a strategic way to proceed. Carlsbad probate lawyers Matthew and Julia Kaemerle have guided numerous people in Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, Encinitas, and San Diego through the probate process, ensuring that they receive the compassionate guidance that they deserve.Differences Between Wills and Trusts
Many people want to know the differences between a will and a trust. Both of these legal instruments can be useful tools in the estate planning process. Some of the primary differences between a will and a trust involve when the document goes into effect and who retains ownership of the assets listed in the document.
In general, a will is a document that indicates which heirs or beneficiaries will receive your property when you die. It also appoints a representative to handle the administration of your estate. In contrast, a trust is a legal instrument whereby the Trustor (person who intended to establish the trust) assigns someone to manage your assets as a trustee for the benefit of you or other parties that you name in the trust. Typically the Trustor who created the Trust, is also the Trustee, and can manage all of their assets during his/her lifetime. The trust takes legal title to the assets, whereas a will does not take legal title.
There are two types of beneficiaries involved in a trust. The first is the party that receives the benefit of the assets during his or her lifetime, which is usually the person who establishes the trust, i.e. the Trustor. The second category consists of the parties that will benefit from the trust’s assets once the Trustor passes. Our probate attorneys in Carlsbad can advise North County and San Diego residents on whether a will, a trust, or a combination may be right for them.Navigating Probate Procedures in California
Once a loved one has passed, there are certain statutory rules that apply regarding how you must handle their assets. The probate process can be difficult and time-consuming, especially if the decedent did not create an estate plan that is geared toward avoiding probate. In California, the probate court will supervise the gathering, valuation, and distribution of the decedent’s assets by the person who is named as the executor in the decedent’s will. If the decedent did not have a will at the time of his or her death, the probate court will appoint an Administrator to oversee the Estate.
One of the first things that the executor must do is file a copy of the decedent’s will with the probate court. If someone chooses to dispute the validity of the will or the valuation of an asset, the probate court will oversee this dispute and resolve it. This is known as probate litigation or a Will Contest, and our Carlsbad probate attorneys are familiar with this process. Many families seek to avoid probate litigation because it can be very contentious and can take many months or even years to resolve. This can be challenging when you are also coping with the passing of a loved one. Probate litigation can also involve a dispute regarding a trust. A beneficiary might disagree about the validity of a trust or about the interpretation of its terms and requirements. When you have a seasoned probate lawyer to guide you through the process, however, you can anticipate potential problems and take steps to address any obstacles that could arise. This is especially important if you are an executor of a large estate with substantial assets and multiple beneficiaries or interested parties.Seek Guidance from an Experienced Trusts and Estates Lawyer
There are many different questions and concerns that people may have about wills, trusts, and the probate process, whether they are setting up an estate or trying to administer the estate of a recently passed loved one. Our dedicated probate lawyers can answer your questions and help you navigate California’s probate laws. We primarily assist people throughout North San Diego County, including in Carlsbad, Oceanside, Encinitas, Vista, Del Mar, Escondido, La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Cardiff by the Sea, Fallbrook, and Solana Beach. To set up a consultation with a probate lawyer in the Carlsbad area, call us at 760-931-1981 or contact us online to get started. We also assist people with family law matters and other legal needs.