What Is A Living Trust?

A Living Trust is a vital component of an estate plan, and part of estate planning documents prepared for you while you are alive. In order for a Trust to work properly, you must transfer most of your assets to your living trust. Title to some assets cannot be transferred to the trust, such as IRA accounts. While you are alive and well, you are the Trustee of the Trust. Since you are the trustee, you manage the day-to-day operations of the Trust while you are alive and well. Normally, while you are alive and have capacity, the Trust is revocable. This means that you have full control over the assets and that can spend all the money in the Trust, revoke or cancel the Trust, amend or change the terms of the Trust, and change any of the beneficiaries of the Trust. You select one or more successor trustees in your Trust document. The successor trustee is the person or persons who will manage the Trust after you are no longer able to do so.

Why Prepare A Trust?

In the event of your incapacity or death, the successor Trustee steps in and manages the Trust for you. If properly funded, the selection of the successor trustee is a very helpful estate planning tool in avoiding a conservatorship proceeding. The successor Trustee can give you income and principal for your benefit while you are alive. Normally, the primary successor trustee is your spouse, if you are married. For most unmarried persons, the Successor Trustee can be one of a child, another person, or a bank.

Probate Avoidance And Cost Savings

Assets which are properly transferred to the Trust normally escape Probate. Estate Planning can result in a significant savings to your heirs. Probate Fees in California are Statutory and Extra-Ordinary and can range between two percent and ten percent of your estate.

Tax Planning Opportunity

In case of married persons, the Trust can take advantage of the Marital Deduction and can be set up to save a substantial amount of estate taxes. Each person is allowed to transfer a certain limit during their lifetime, or after their death, tax-free. In 2007 and 2008, the amount that can pass without Federal Estate Tax is $2,000,000. In 2009, this amount is increased to $3,500,000. For 2011 and 2012, the amount is increased to $5,000,000 which is portable by the spouses.

Portability has requirements, which if not met prevent the survivor from using the decedent's unused exemption. When one spouse passes away, the Trust is divided into two SubTrusts. One Trust is called the Decedent's Trust and the other Trust is called the Survivor's Trust. An election to use the decedent's unused exemption has to be made. The Decedent's Trust contains the deceased spouse's marital share of the assets. The Decedent's Trust becomes irrevocable on the death of the first spouse. To protect the Decedent Spouse's wishes, the surviving spouse cannot change this portion of the Trust. However, all income of the Decedent's Trust will normally be paid out to the surviving spouse. The principal of the Decedent's trust is available to the surviving spouse if he or she needs it for his or her health, education, support or maintenance. When the surviving spouse passes away, the balance of each SubTrust is paid out to the beneficiaries of that Trust.

The surviving spouse's share is called the Survivor's Trust. The Survivor's SubTrust remains revocable by the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse can spend all the assets in the Survivor's Trust, can amend or change that SubTrust, can change the beneficiaries, and can revoke or cancel the Trust. The entire income and principal of this SubTrust are paid to the surviving spouse. When the surviving spouse passes away, the remaining balance of the Survivor's Trust is paid out to the beneficiaries of the Survivor's Trust.

One benefit of AB Trust planning is that both spouses can make use of the Exemption Equivalent Amount, thus taking advantage of a significant tax savings, and also to insure that the decedent's wishes are complied with by the surviving spouse.

For most people, the main benefit proper Trust planning is that the estate can avoid Probate. The heirs can benefit by between two and ten percent of the gross estate by proper estate planning. Additionally, an estate plan can eliminate a substantial amount of time taken in Probate Administration.

This article and our e-course are not intended to replace specific advice of an attorney and is intended to be educational only. We highly recommend that you meed with a qualified attorney for specific advice regarding your estate and for professional preparation of all legal documents.

If you have further questions concerning any of your wills, living trust and estate planning , contact attorney at ABA Family Law Group to make an appointment for a Consultation at one of our offices at (844) 289-4847.


Do you need changes made to your existing will? If you live in the Los Angeles area, an attorney at ABA Family Law Group may be able to help you.

What Are Codicils?

A codicil is a written amendment that adds to, deletes, or changes specific provisions in a will, effective as of the date the codicil is signed. These changes may be small such as changing executors, replacing guardians for children, naming new custodians for gifts made to children, changing the guardians of children's property, or the trustees of children's trusts. They may also make major changes such as completely altering the distribution of assets.

The original will is identified in the codicil so that it remains in effect except for the changes made in the codicil. And, since the revisions made in a codicil may override original provisions, a codicil must be signed, dated, and witnessed just like a last will and testament. When the person dies, both the will and the codicil are used to administer the estate and distribute the property, belongings, and other assets to the heirs and other beneficiaries according to the person's instructions.

The original will is identified in the codicil so that it remains in effect except for the changes made in the codicil. And, since the revisions made in a codicil may override original provisions, a codicil must be signed, dated, and witnessed just like a last will and testament. When the person dies, both the will and the codicil are used to administer the estate and distribute the property, belongings, and other assets to the heirs and other beneficiaries according to the person's instructions.

You last will and testament is an extremely important legal instrument, which delineates precisely how you wish your estate to be handled. Thus it needs to be a valid and legally binding document, reflecting your current needs and goals. Changes may occur in your life that needs to be stated in your existing will.

Joint And Mutual Wills

Joint and mutual wills are two types of wills usually written for married couples to ensure their property is disposed of identically. They are closely related terms but joint wills differ substantially from mutual wills.If you need either one of these wills written and you live in Los Angeles, or any of its surrounding areas, ABA Family Law Group. may be able to assist you in doing so. We concentrate on trust and estate administration so we are familiar with all types of wills and all aspects involved in writing them.

Pour Over Wills

It's essential to have a pour over will whenever a trust is used. It ensures that your property will eventually be disposed of in the manner that you want. At ABA Family Law Group, a lawyer can help you create a pour over will and ensure that your needs are met for these very essential documents and services. We pride ourselves on our individualized attention and client care.

What Is A Pour Over Will?

Some people intentionally or inadvertently leave certain property, valuables, or possessions out of their trust. These properties could be things like vehicles, a rare book, jewelry, a work of art, or other personal belongings. The reasons for leaving them out of the trust could be simple forgetfulness, or the fact that they were acquired after the trust was written, or they were left out for tax reasons or other considerations.

Thus the pour over will is used in conjunction with a trust. It means that any asset not put into the trust during the person's life is caught and "pours over", or goes into the trust when he or she dies. These assets then eventually become distributed as part of the deceased person's estate according to his instructions instead of under state law.

Will Contests

The pursuit of a will contest is generally limited to an 'interested person,' which is defined by The Probate Code to include, but not be limited to, a decedent's spouse, registered domestic partner, children, heirs, testate beneficiaries, and creditors. Whether a particular person is considered an 'interested party' is determined on a case-by-case basis.

There are a many instances where a will is not as accurate as it needs to be in order to stand up against opposition. This leads to numerous disputes that are best settled with the aid of an attorney. A will may be contested based on, but not limited to, any of the following grounds:

  • Evocation
  • Lack of capacity
  • Fraud
  • Misrepresentation
  • Menace
  • Duress
  • Undue influence
  • Mistake
  • Lack of due execution
  • Forgery

An interested party may contest a will before or after a will enters into probate with the intention to prevent probate of the tendered will or to revoke a will that has been admitted to probate but it is a timely matter. While it is a legal document, a trust is often subject to the interpretation of all involved parties so it must be made with and scrutinized for specific language. If all the details are not completely clear, a legal battle may very well ensue.

Contesting a will is a detailed legal process that requires an attorney that specializes in trust litigation in order to guarantee you are covering all aspects of your case and protecting what is rightfully yours. These proceedings can be difficult, time-consuming, and incredibly stressful.

Will Vs. Revocable Living Trust

Does a revocable living trust or a will take precedence?

When considering the subject of revocable living trusts, it is important to understand which will take precedence in the event that property is left both in a Last Will and Testament and a revocable living trust. The revocable living trust will take precedence, as we will explain further. A living trust is established while a person is still alive and is a viable means of transferring property to a beneficiary while avoiding the probate process. A will is another way that a person may leave property to another person, but a will requires probate.

What happens if property was left to one person in a Last Will and Testament and the same property was left to another person through a revocable living trust? The living trust will take precedence, meaning the person left the property through the trust will receive the property, not the person named in the will. This applies regardless of which document was executed first. The trust takes precedence because the property was already transferred when the trust agreement was executed. The will does not allow for the transfer of property until the death of the owner. When a revocable living trust is established, property ownership is actually transferred to the trustee.

Living Trusts In California

If you are considering setting up a living trust or are dealing with a trust, will or any probate or estate planning matter in the Los Angeles area, an experienced trust litigation attorney at our firm can help. We offer personalized legal representation in these matters, providing our clients with the guidance they need in these often complex issues.

Do you need changes made to your existing will? If you live in the Los Angeles area, including nearby communities ABA Family Law Group may be able to help you. We concentrate on trust and estate administration so we are familiar with all types of wills and all aspects involved in writing them.

Healthcare Directives

Los Angeles Estate Planning Attorney

When it comes to planning ahead, a healthcare directive can be a beneficial tool. At ABA Family Law Group, we help our clients take into consideration every aspect of the estate planning process. If you interested in setting up a comprehensive plan that addresses your financial, familial, and healthcare concerns, be sure to contact our Los Angeles estate planning lawyer for counsel.

Our founding attorney is board certified in estate planning, which means that he is fully-equipped to help you prepare for your legal concerns and healthcare preferences. As a specialists in his field, he provides clients with invaluable insight and support when it comes to creating their plans.

What Is An Advance Healthcare Directive?

California allows individuals to set up legal documents that give direction on the type of healthcare they would like to receive if they are no longer able to make those decisions for themselves. For example, if an individual was involved in a severe accident and fell into a coma, their advance healthcare directive would be used to provide doctors and loved ones direction on the type of care they would like to receive or avoid.

You may wish to include whether or not you would like the following life-prolonging care:

  • Blood transfusions
  • CPR
  • Testing and analysis
  • Medical drugs
  • A respirator
  • Surgical procedures

Many people choose not to prolong the dying process, setting up a healthcare directive to allow family members peace of mind when forgoing certain treatment options. You can also choose to set up an individual, or agent, to enact the healthcare directive for you through a document called a durable power of attorney. When you combine the two documents, it is called an advance healthcare directive. Your agent and doctors are legally obligated to follow your last wishes.

Let Us Help With Your Estate Plan. Call Today (844) 289-4847

If you would like to set up an advanced healthcare directive and include additional or more detailed instructions regarding your healthcare, be sure to call our firm today. We can walk you through the legal process and ensure that your final wishes and instructions are clearly documented.

Power Of Attorney For Healthcare

One of the documents that must be in place in a comprehensive estate plan is a durable power of attorney. This is a legal document in which you appoint another person, whether a family member or another person you trust, to make decisions about your finances, care and health decisions, such as types of treatments you choose for yourself should you become incapacitated and unable to communicate. There are two types of powers of attorney that must be in place in an estate plan. The first is to appoint a person to manage your financial affairs if you become unable to do so, and the second is for healthcare decisions.

At ABA Family Law Group, we assist those in the Los Angeles area to put a full estate plan in place, including these critical documents. As decisions will be made by the party you choose, this is an extremely important decision for you. These are discussions we can have with you, and our goal is to protect you, your interests and your heirs. We have years of professional experience in simple and advanced estate planning, and our attention to detail and we are proud of our professional ability to craft an estate plan that reflects the personal wishes of our clients.

Powers Of Attorney For Finances And Healthcare

We can assist you with all aspects of estate planning, including the most advanced strategies and processes. You may require not only powers of attorney so that a trusted individual can make the crucial decisions for you, but you may need an entire estate plan put in place, or your current plan reviewed and updated. If you are a business owner, you may need help with business succession planning or the creation of more advanced trusts to protect your assets upon your death. Failing to have all the documents in place and filed can leave your family confused, or even in contention about what should be done financially, or regarding your healthcare. Save those you love from the confusion and stress of trying to understand what you would have wanted, by having it all in writing.

Contact ABA Family Law Group at once for assistance in drafting or changing an existing power of attorney. (844) 289-4847

Durable Power Of Attorney

A power of attorney is an estate planning tool and document of which the maker, or principal, gives authority to an individual known as an attorney-in-fact. This authority allows him or her to act on behalf of the principal. This attorney-in-fact does not have to be an actual lawyer but anyone who the principal trusts to act. The principal has the ability to make many decisions, including the details of the power of attorney and the scope of power that the attorney-in-fact possesses. A Los Angeles trust lawyer for durable powers of attorney can help you understand what details should be included with your document, depending on your circumstances. The power of attorney can be used for a variety of actions, such as to pay bills, transfer funds, or fulfill business transactions. It can be used for almost any decision and there are a variety of types of powers of attorney. A durable power of attorney document is usually related to financial or business transactions.

What Makes A Power Of Attorney "durable?"

If a power of attorney is "durable," that means that it is valid and is in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated and unable to make decisions. Powers of attorney that are not durable will end if the principal becomes incapacitated. There are two distinguishing types of powers of attorney. There is a durable power of attorney for finances and a durable power of attorney for healthcare.The durable power of attorney for finances allows the principal to name an individual to manage affairs involving finances if the principal becomes incapacitated. The durable power of attorney for healthcare will give the attorney-in-fact power to make medical decisions for you if you can no longer speak for yourself. Contact our office to learn more!

Power Of Attorney For Healthcare

Your loved ones can be thrown into confusion and turmoil if you become incapacitated. They may not agree on the treatment and care you would have wanted for yourself. If you do not appoint a trusted person as your "proxy" in these decisions, it can lead to family contention, which is the last thing you hope for those you love. Don't leave them in this position, uncertain about what to do. A power of attorney for healthcare is one document that should be in place in a comprehensive estate plan.

A Trusted Proxy For Your HealthCare Decisions

At ABA Family Law Group , our professionals serve as counsel in all estate planning matters, including wills, the establishment of trusts, and other critical documents, such as a power of attorney for healthcare or advanced healthcare directives. If you become seriously ill, are incapacitated, and unable to make decisions, the person you name will have the responsibility to make these decisions for you. Obviously, you would want to choose a person who you have great trust in, who knows you well, and will make decisions as you would have if you were able.

A healthcare directive outlines the types of care you want, or do not want, which may include issues like deciding about accepting or refusing treatment, choosing the healthcare facility or doctor that will treat you and making decisions about the release of any medical records when necessary. Some people do not want to prolong their lives if in an irreversible coma or vegetative state, or if suffering from a terminal disease. You can also direct the person making decisions for you to authorize any treatments that could prolong your life if you choose to do so. All of these matters are of concern, and should be resolved with help from a legal professional that is able to listen, understand you and advise you, based upon your wishes. One of the most crucial documents in an estate plan is a power of attorney for healthcare. We can assist you with all estate planning matters, including the drafting of this document.

Revocation Of Powers Of Attorney

There are many reasons that can cause you to become unpleased with the individual you chose to make decisions for you for the durable power of attorney. If you need to put an end to this situation, it is important to know that you can revoke the power of attorney at any time. By speaking with a Los Angeles trust lawyer from our firm, our attorney can help you through the steps to ensure the document is completely revoked. This can be done by making a new power of attorney, but the revocation should also be done in a written form.

What Does A Revocation Include?

If you are putting the revocation in writing, it should include the proper information. This includes your name, a statement to prove that you are in fact of sound mind, and a statement that you wish to revoke the current power of attorney. The date that the original power of attorney begun and the individual chosen as the agent or attorney-in-fact should also be included. You will then need to ensure that the document is signed and sent to your current agent and anyone who has a copy of your current power of attorney. If you have a new power of attorney, that should also be included.

Another step that should be taken is to get the old power of attorney back from your agent. If that is not feasible, then you should send that individual a certified letter that states the revocation of the power of attorney of which they are the agent. This can be a complicated process that requires substantial legal assistance. As you withdraw the powers to make financial or healthcare decisions from one agent and give this power to another agent, a Los Angeles attorney from our firm can help. Contact our office today to find out how we can help.