Planning a Trust

Experienced Oakland Trust Lawyer

There are several key decisions you will have to make when setting up a trust. You need to decide on the type of trust you wish to create and what assets it will contain. Depending on the size and complexity of your estate, planning and creating a trust can be straightforward or very involved. Because these matters can often be so confusing, it is recommended that you retain a skilled trust attorney to assist you. That is exactly what you will find when you come to my firm. As an Oakland trust lawyer, I make sure my clients are satisfied with their legal documents and confident in my counsel.

Taking an Inventory of Your Assets

Gaining an accurate account of your assets is the first step in deciding what will and won't be included in a trust arrangement.

Assets to be considered include:

  • Retirement accounts
  • Investments
  • Insurance policies
  • Real estate
  • Business assets

In some cases, assets may be shifted around prior to a trust creation to make them more easily managed or more clearly described. The inventory itself is an excellent tool, simply because it clearly lays out the details of someone's financial life, but there is much more to establishing a trust than this.

Other Considerations with Trusts

Before drawing up a trust, matters to be considered include:

  • Who will inherit assets and how much? Are there specific assets to go to specific beneficiaries or are you more interested in a percentage distribution?
  • Will the trust serve simply as a vehicle to avoid probate or should it endure? In some situations, a trust will continue to function long after the death of the settlor. The assets may continue to build value, or a delay may be warranted when minor children are involved.
  • What happens if you become incapacitated? Will the trust only activate upon your death or will it also serve as a "living will?"
  • How will the trust be managed while you are still alive? Do you wish to have the ability to alter the trust or is it more advantageous to create an irrevocable trust instead?

Establishing a trust means matching the assets and wishes of clients to the appropriate legal vehicle. This includes determining the best arrangement to minimize taxes and fees, but there are other, more emotional questions to think about.

Who will the beneficiaries be? What happens if you cannot manage your affairs? Will a medical power of attorney resolve this?

What to Expect When Meeting with Me

My primary focus is helping you meet your goals. I do this by setting out the options available and help you determine which is best in your situation. This means a confidential, serious conversation about matters which may be difficult to discuss. It isn't easy to think about your own passing, but it will be handled in a mature, professional manner.

Privacy is a critical concern and the lawyer-client privilege is important. In fact, one of the reasons trusts are used is to avoid having one's personal affairs discussed in open court during probate. Many people do not realize their will becomes a public document during probate. Privacy can be protected by using a trust instead, as avoiding family disputes is one of the benefits.

Some of the decision points I will discuss include:

  • How should the trust merge with your overall financial goals?
  • Which type of trust is best in your situation to avoid estate and inheritance taxes?
  • How will charitable gifts be handled?
  • How will the trust be managed and what are the associated costs? Who will act as trustee?
  • Are there special considerations or concerns, such as pets, minor children, or other purposes? Can these be built into a trust or are there better ways to accomplish these goals?

My role at the Law Offices of Steven M. Simrin is to smooth what could otherwise be an overly complex process fraught with emotion. I am an experienced trust attorney in Oakland and Alameda County, and I counsel and guide clients in planning and creating a trust that is legally solid, financially sound, and that serves the intended purpose.

We can discuss all this and more in a free initial consultation. Fill out a free case evaluation form to schedule one today!

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