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San Francisco Attorney for Living Trusts

Sunset District living trust lawyer

Estate Planning Lawyer Helping Clients Establish Revocable Trusts in the North Bay and the East Bay

In combination with a will, a trust can be an important tool to ensure that your assets are passed along according to your wishes after your death. When you establish a trust, you set aside a portion of your assets for distribution to your chosen beneficiaries. However, this does not necessarily mean that you lose access to those assets during your lifetime. With a revocable living trust, you benefit from many of the advantages of a trust for estate planning purposes while ensuring you can use the assets for your own benefit as long as you are alive.

At the Law Office of Martin Alperen, we know that estate planning can be confusing and overwhelming, but with our 35 years of legal experience, we help our clients identify the best estate planning options for their unique situations and execute them in accordance with California law. If a living trust is the best choice for you, we are ready to assist.

Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts in San Francisco County

You may be concerned that placing assets in a trust will prevent you from accessing them if you need to later on, but this is only true of an irrevocable trust. Irrevocable trusts offer the benefit of reducing the value of a large estate in order to avoid federal estate taxes, and they can also protect assets from creditors and lawsuits, but their permanence may be a step too far for you, especially if you have a more modest estate.

If your goal is simply to provide for your family or designate assets to a charity or cause of your choice, a revocable living trust can be a great choice. You are still able to specify how your assets will be distributed after your death while avoiding the often lengthy and complicated probate process, but you can amend or revoke the trust at any point during your life as circumstances change.

Establishing a Living Trust in the Bay Area

Creating a revocable living trust involves several steps and important decisions, and our attorney can guide you through the process. You should plan for:

  • Selecting the assets to include: You can choose to include any assets or properties in a trust, other than retirement accounts and life insurance policies that already have a named beneficiary. For example, you might establish a trust for your home, savings, or assets invested in stocks and bonds. You should gather any important documentation related to your properties to help your attorney in preparing the trust and to pass along to your beneficiaries when they take ownership.
  • Selecting the trustee: The trustee is the person responsible for handling the assets in the trust and executing their distribution to beneficiaries. For a revocable living trust, you can be the trustee yourself, or you can elect another person whom you trust. If you plan to be the trustee during your life, you should name at least one successor trustee who can take over in the event of your incapacitation or after your death.
  • Selecting beneficiaries: You will need to choose the person or people to whom you want your assets distributed after your death. Beneficiaries can include your spouse, children, other relatives, friends, and anyone else you choose. Alternatively, you can designate a charity or organization as a beneficiary of some of your assets. You can even have multiple beneficiaries of the same trust, with a plan to divide assets between them as you see fit.
  • Selecting distribution criteria: When establishing the trust, you also decide on how and when the assets will be distributed to your beneficiaries. For example, they can be allocated over a period of time or after a certain event, such as the beneficiary's 18th birthday.

To ensure your trust is enforceable, you should draft it in writing, sign it, and have it acknowledged by a notary. Should you wish to modify your living trust, you can follow this same process.

Contact an Oakland Living Trust Attorney

For an attorney who can help with living trusts and other estate planning matters, contact us today at 415-534-1200 to schedule a free consultation. We are happy to bring our services to you wherever you may be throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area, including Oakland, Berkeley, the East Bay, the North Bay, the Peninsula, Marin County, Alameda County, and Sonoma County.

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