Our Practice Areas
Estate planning is the process of arranging for the accumulation, conservation, and distribution of the property and responsibilities of an individual both during his/her lifetime and after his/her death. Estate planning involves making the most effective disposition of a person’s wealth and interests consistent with his/her goals and values. There are no magic numbers or hard rules in estate planning, as estate planning is not a stagnant process. Estate planning advice changes as a person’s individual circumstances and goals change.
A living trust comes into existence on the date it is signed and assets are placed into it. So even when the settlor dies, trust administration has been ongoing since the date of existence of the trust. However, when the settlor dies, the successor trustee follows the new “sections” of the existing trust. So on the death of the settlor, we now look at the trust document and Probate Code for guidance on how to administer the trust after the death of the settlor.
At this point, the revocable living trust now becomes an irrevocable trust, as the only person who could change it (the settlor) has now died.
Probate is the court administered process of transferring the assets and liabilities of a decedent to the proper recipients. If probate is necessary, then regardless of whether a person died with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate), probate administration is necessary to prove the decedent’s title to the property and determine the proper identities of the persons entitled to that property. The process includes proving the validity of the will, if any, winding up the decedent’s final affairs, marshaling the assets, paying the creditors, and distributing the remaining assets to the proper beneficiaries.