The benefits of a living trust are extensive. First, your privacy is protected. When a will is probated, all your assets become a matter of public record. When your assets are transferred to your beneficiaries via a living trust, only your real estate assets are recorded.
Additionally, distributing assets to the named beneficiaries can be accomplished much quicker than it can be done when the estate must go through probate.
If you consider the overall cost to the estate, establishing a revocable living trust in California costs less than not having one if the estate has much in the way of assets because probate fees are 4% of the first $100,000 of assets ($4,000). These fees, and more in larger estates, are avoided if the grantor sets up a trust in California and transfers their assets into the trust.
The initial cost of setting up a living trust in California is usually a few thousand dollars but this varies with the size and complexity of the estate.
None of the benefits of a living trust are realized if the grantor doesn’t transfer their assets into the trust.
Many people resist setting up a trust because they don’t know how to administer a trust in California. The grantor of a living trust retains all the ownership rights in the assets in the trust. Once ownership is transferred to the trust, the only difference is signing their name with “trustee” after their name instead of signing their name when they buy or sell a car, house, boat, or other titled asset. Once they establish a living trust, people are often surprised by how easy it is to administer the trust. It doesn’t even require a separate tax return during the lifetime of the grantor.