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Living Trust Attorney Orange County – Legal Advice & Financial Planning Expert

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living trust is an arrangement under which one person, called a trustee, holds legal title to property for another person, called a beneficiary. Orange County trust attorneys are licensed professionals who can help by providing legal advice and preparing relevant documents.

Living trust attorney can assist individuals and families in setting up trusts to manage their assets and estate distribution efficiently. If you're considering establishing a living trust in California, Thomas McKenzie, a knowledgeable Orange County living trust attorney, can help you. Our office can guide you through the legal requirements, help you understand your options, and ensure that your wishes are properly documented and executed.

Trusts & Estate Plans in Orange County, CA

You can be the trustee of your own living trust, keeping full control over all property held in trust. A “living trust” (also called an “inter vivos” trust) is simply a trust you create while you’re alive, rather than one that is created at your death. In Orange County, different kinds of living trusts can help you avoid probate, reduce estate taxes, or set up long-term property management.

Just like a will, a living trust spells out exactly what your wishes are in regard to your assets, your dependents and heirs. A will becomes effective only after you die and the will has been entered into probate. A living trust bypasses the costly and time-consuming process of probate, allowing your trustee to carry out your instructions at death and also if you become unable to manage your finances, healthcare or legal affairs due to incapacity.

Two Types of Living Trust in California

Revocable Living Trust:

With a revocable living trust, you transfer all of your assets into the ownership of the trust. You retain control of those assets as the trustee of your revocable living trust. You can change or revoke the trust at any time you want. The assets in the trust pass directly to your beneficiaries without going through probate upon your death. The vast majority of individuals and couples who establish a living trust, establish a “revocable” trust as the basis of their estate plan. You can schedule a free consultation today with our dedicated Orange County living trust attorney.

Irrevocable Living Trust:

An irrevocable trust allows you to permanently and irrevocably give away your assets during your lifetime. Usually, after you give away these assets, you have relinquished all control and interest in these assets. Due to that fact, these assets are no longer considered part of your estate and aren’t subject to estate taxes. Irrevocable trust may also provide certain asset protection benefits, due to the fact that you no longer own the assets of the trust.

We Create a Custom Estate Planning Solution For You

All living trusts are not the same. Unfortunately, it has been our experience after reviewing thousands of trusts drafted by our competitors, that the vast majority of Living Trusts and other estate planning documents drafted today, are boilerplate documents, cranked out on a computer software program. As a result, many crucial provisions are often left out. For example, in the event that someone were to become incompetent and require nursing home care, under California law, we can do much to protect their assets, as well as their home.

However, if that person is no longer competent to sign documents, then we must rely upon the plan they already have in place. If that plan does not adequately address long-term care asset protection issues, the individual or couple may lose thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars unnecessarily. If, on the other hand, the recipient of long-term care services had established his or her plan through our office, under current law we could protect their principal residence, and a substantial amount (or even all) of their liquid assets. It is, indeed, crucially important to make sure your documents are comprehensive enough to cover a multitude of issues, and flexible enough to adjust to changing circumstances.

Other extraordinary provisions which, upon your option, may be included in Estate Plans. Those are generally not found in typical estate planning documents drafted by other firms include, but are not limited to:

  • Several alternate provisions to reduce or eliminate estate taxes on the passing of a spouse;
  • Provisions to reduce or eliminate capital gains taxes on appreciated properties on the passing of a spouse;
  • Provisions which assure that your trust may be amended or modified at any time, without a required court petition;
  • Provisions which protect the inheritance of your minor beneficiaries;
  • Provisions which protect the inheritance of your beneficiaries from possible losses due to divorce, lawsuits, etc.;
  • Provisions which protect the inheritance of your beneficiaries from possible losses due to their own improvidence (e.g. drug use, gambling, incarceration);
  • Provisions which assure that if you have a disabled beneficiary, or if you have one who becomes disabled in the future, his or her share is protected against loss due to complex public benefits laws; and
  • Provisions which provide that any trust which survives you and becomes irrevocable, may still be updated and modified without having to spend thousands of dollars for a court order.

Our Orange County trust lawyer can help with comprehensive and flexible nature of the documentation. For the entire duration of Mr. McKenzie’s professional experience in California Law, not one of his clients who have established his comprehensive plan, has ever had to resort to a court to protect their assets, modify their documents, or otherwise accomplish any needed or beneficial objective. Check for certified financial planners in Orange County.

Please contact McKenzie Legal & Financial if you are looking for a living trust attorney serving Orange County, CA. We provide legal advice and information about creating or evaluating a trust agreement.

Wills & Estate Plans in Orange County, CA

A Will or Last Will and Testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the Testator, names one or more persons to manage his or her estate, and provides for the distribution of his or her property at death.

The estates of those who pass away without a Will, will be required to go through the expensive and time-consuming probate process, unless the value of their probatable estate is less than $184,500. Because there is no Will or Trust, the beneficiaries of the estate will be those determined by the State of California under the law of Intestate Succession.

The estate of those who have established a Will as the basis of their plan (meaning, that they do not have a Living Trust), will also be subject to the probate process, as described above, however, the beneficiaries of the estate will be those persons and/or entities as set forth in the Will.

Those who have established a Living Trust as the basis of their plan, will still have a Will, but the type of Will used with a trust-based plan is called a “Pourover Will”. A Pourover Will names your executors, just like a standard Will, however, the “beneficiary” of your Pourover Will is your Living Trust. This provides for the uniform administration of your estate when you pass away.

Please contact McKenzie Legal & Financial if you are looking for an estate planning attorney serving Orange County, CA. We provide legal advice and assistance for drafting wills under California Law.

Durable Powers of Attorney in Orange County, California

Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone you choose the power to act in your place. In case you ever become mentally incapacitated, you’ll need what are known as “durable” powers of attorney, so that your agent can assist you without having to initiate an expensive court procedure (e.g. a conservatorship).The Durable Power of Attorney is one of the most important documents of your comprehensive estate plan, even for those who have a Living Trust, for although the Successor Trustee of your Living Trust can step in and manage your trust property in the event that you cannot do so yourself, there are many other issues which arise outside of the purview of your Living Trust.

For example, you may have qualified accounts which cannot be transferred to your trust (e.g. IRAs, 401(k)s, etc.); you may need someone to sign a document on your behalf; or you may need someone to assist in protecting your assets in the event that you have extremely high medical or long-term care costs. Your agent under your Power of Attorney will be a crucial part of your overall management and asset protection plan.

Remember, that if something needs to be done to protect you or your estate, and you either do not have a plan, or your plan is not comprehensive enough to accomplish the needed task, an expensive court procedure would need to be established to authorize someone to assist you. It has been our experience that our comprehensive and flexible estate planning documents have eliminated the need for this expensive procedure, and at the same time, made sure that your wishes would be carried out in accordance with your stated objectives, by someone of your choosing, rather than someone appointed by a court.

And please remember, all Durable Powers of Attorney are not the same. It has been our experience that most, just like most Living Trusts drafted today, are one-size-fits-all computer generated documents. They routinely lack certain important provisions, the absence of which could cause you and your loved ones severe problems. A custom-drafted, comprehensive Durable Power of Attorney is an essential part of your overall estate plan.

Please contact McKenzie Legal & Financial if you are looking for an estate attorney in Orange County. We provide legal advice and information about creating documents for Power of Attorney.

Advance Health Care Directives in Orange County, CA

Generally, an Advance Health Care Directive is a document under which you give instructions about your own health care; you name someone else to make health care decisions for you, in the event that you cannot make them yourself; and you set forth your wishes regarding the administration of life support in the event that you are, for example, in a coma or persistent vegetative state. As with the other documents we have discussed, the Advance Health Care Directive is an extremely important component of your overall estate plan. Looking for a medi-cal planning lawyer?

Please contact McKenzie Legal & Financial if you are looking for an Orange County trust attorney who knows specific requirements in writing an Advance Healthcare Directive.

Other Estate Planning Services:

Trust Administration - Thomas McKenzie will guide you navigating the process of administering trusts. Hiring our Orange County trust administration attorney can streamline the process, protect your interests, and provide you with the guidance and support needed to navigate the complexities of trust administration effectively. By entrusting the process to a qualified attorney, you can have peace of mind knowing that your loved one's wishes are being carried out properly and that potential legal issues are being addressed proactively.

Probate - It is the legal process through which a deceased person's estate is settled and distributed under court supervision. Probate can be time-consuming, and delays can occur if mistakes are made or legal requirements are not followed. A probate attorney can help expedite the process and ensure that the estate is settled as efficiently as possible. Hiring our Orange County probate attorney can help streamline the process, minimize potential issues, and provide peace of mind during a difficult time.

Experienced Trusts Lawyer in Orange County, California

It is impossible to know whether a Living Trust based estate plan is drafted properly and comprehensively without reviewing the documents themselves. In order to assure maximum protection, this review should be conducted by a living trust attorney in Orange County, CA with a superior level of competence in “comprehensive” estate and long-term care planning procedures. Many couples and individuals who already think they are “protected” under their current plan, may have significant deficiencies. Unless these defects are corrected BEFORE problems arise, serious consequences could follow.

Thomas L. McKenzie, an Orange County trust attorney, gives a personal guarantee to all of his clients, that each and every Living Trust, Durable Power of Attorney and other estate planning document, is PERSONALLY drafted by him in accordance with your unique circumstances.

Please be advised that the information on this site is not meant to be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, or for more information about creating or evaluating a Living Trust, please contact an Estate Planning Lawyer in Orange County, CA at (562) 526-6941 for a FREE 30-minute consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a living will?

A living will is a collection of legal documents specifying your preferences for medical care.
It comes into play when a person is incapacitated, and it tells medical professionals whether or not you want to be put on a ventilator, be resuscitated, and so on. You can even communicate whether or not you want to be an organ donor.

A living will is different from a living trust. The latter is a trust that holds designated assets during your lifetime. While you are alive, the trust is dormant, but upon your death, the assets contained are immediately transferred to the beneficiaries.

Why should I make a living trust?

There are several benefits to creating a living trust, and it’s a common estate planning tool.
This complex legal document creates a reliable, clear-cut plan for distributing your assets.

One of the main benefits is that a living trust allows you to avoid probate, which saves your loved ones and beneficiaries time and money.

A living trust also gives you more privacy than a will, which becomes a public record upon your death. Putting your assets into a living trust instead, protects the details of your assets and beneficiaries, keeping them private.

How does a living trust avoid probate?

Probate is the process of settling a person’s estate and distributing their assets. This process is known to take a long time, especially in complex cases or when there isn’t a will. The court will oversee this process and carry it out according to local law.

A living trust provides clear instructions for your assets and a legal transfer path for them. Your trust is designed to immediately give your beneficiaries legal ownership over the assets that were previously owned by the trust.

Is it expensive to create a living trust?

Creating a living trust is a complex process that requires a lot of time and expert legal work. The cost varies between clients, but you can expect to spend more than you would on a basic will and estate plan.

When creating a living trust, you’ll need an experienced attorney to help you draft the trust document according to your specific financial needs.

In addition to attorney fees, you may need to pay fees to transfer legal ownership of any assets you want to include in the trust.

Can a living trust reduce estate taxes?

A living trust mainly facilitates the transfer of assets between the settlor who created the trust and the beneficiaries. If your trust is revocable, it will cease to exist after this transfer takes place and there is no more property contained.

However, an irrevocable trust can protect your estate from taxes, because with an irrevocable trust, you’ll need to transfer legal ownership of assets like real estate and vehicles to the trust itself.

Does a living trust protect property from creditors?

A living trust does not necessarily protect your property from creditors. They can be either revocable or irrevocable. The former does not offer protection from creditors or estate taxes.

Irrevocable trusts, on the other hand, cannot be changed after you sign them, and they transfer legal ownership of your assets to the trust itself. That transfer of ownership can protect your assets from anyone who plans to sue you, including creditors.

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