The Revocable Living Trust

A. What Is It?

A Revocable Living Trust is a way of holding title to your assets. You probably hold title to real estate, bank accounts, stocks, and other assets in your own name. This allows you to manage your property yourself and protects your assets from anyone else who might try to obtain access to them.

But, when you die, or if you become incapacitated, no other person can manage or dispose of your assets. Banks, other financial institutions, or any other entity involved with the control of your assets will not recognize anyone but you as having power to deal with the assets. Any other person must request that the Probate Court give them the power to manage your assets. This is commonly known as a "Conservatorship" if you are disabled, or as "Probate" after your death.

A Revocable Living Trust creates a legally recognized vehicle to title your assets in a manner that allows you (the "Trustor" or "Settlor" or "Grantor") to give permission to the person (or institution) of your choice (the "Trustee") to manage assets for the benefit of yourself or other persons (the "Beneficiaries") if you become incapacitated or at your death. It contains your authorization for the Trustee to act and the instructions which the Trustee must follow. At your death or disability, all assets in the name of the Trust will be under the control of your Trustee, and will not be subject to the jurisdiction of the Probate Court.

B. What Does It Do?

  • Avoids Probate: Assets go directly to your beneficiaries. No statutory attorney's fees or court costs. No unnecessary delay. Completely private.
  • Allows You to Restrict How Your Estate is Managed Even After Death: You select the age at which your children or other beneficiaries receive your assets.
  • Protects Children From an Earlier Marriage: Surviving spouse and your children from a previous marriage can receive fair treatment.
  • Helps Ensure That Your Wishes Are Not Subject to Attack: Very difficult for disgruntled or greedy relatives to successfully attack your estate plan.
  • Eliminates Conservatorship: Trustee manages your affairs without court oversight and expense.
  • Gives You Peace of Mind: You can relax knowing that your estate will be managed and distributed by someone you select and trust.

C. Who Should Have One?

Anyone who owns assets with a gross value of $100,000 or more should explore the option of creating a Trust to avoid Probate. Assets held in joint tenancy or assets which are designated to go to a specified beneficiary are exempt from the calculation of the value of the estate. But joint tenancy and beneficiary designations can have unexpected consequences that can destroy the estate plan.

D. Process of Creating Your Trust

If you are considering a Revocable Living Trust as a way of settling your estate, you can e-mail me or telephone my office for an appointment. At the first consultation, we will discuss what a Trust is and how it works. I will also need to get some information from you at that time -- information about your family and your assets, and how you want to distribute your estate. This is necessary for me to properly advise you as to the proper style of Trust for your situation.

If you live (or work) within a 45-minute drive from Davis, CA (where my office is located), I will usually meet you at your home or office. If you do not live or work within that distance, but can meet me at a suitable location within the area, we can consult there. In some instances, I may be able to consult with you by telephone. If you are a California resident and would like me to create your Trust, but cannot meet within the area described above, give me a call anyway.

At the end of the first consultation, if you have decided that you want me to create a Trust for you, we will set another appointment, usually for two to four weeks later at a time that is convenient for both of us. At that appointment, I will have your documents ready for you to sign. I will notarize your signatures for you and explain each document. We typically take from an hour to an hour-and-a-half for this appointment. This allows me to ensure that you are fully informed about how to use your Trust and how to transfer your assets to the Trust.

Again, if you are located at a considerable distance, I may be able to mail the documents to you and we can consult by telephone. You would have to locate a Notary Public in your area to notarize your signatures on the documents (This will probably entail a fee in the neighborhood of $50-$100 to the Notary).

After your documents are signed and notarized, your Trust is in force. Then you need to transfer your assets to the Trust. This is referred to as "Funding" the Trust, and generally involves delivering a Deed (which I usually provide for you) to the County Recorder in the county where each piece of real property is located, and delivering a letter (which I also provide for you) to each holder of liquid assets -- bank accounts, stocks, investment accounts, insurance policies, etc.

After the Trust is funded, you will see little difference in your day-to-day handling of your assets. Any new assets should be titled in the name of the Trust when they are acquired. You should review your Trust from time to time to ensure that it continues to express your wishes, and if necessary, amend it if your wishes should change in the future. I can usually provide this service at a very low cost by conferring with you by phone and mailing you the new amendment.

This is my "win-win" process. If I can be of service to you in creating your Revocable Living Trust, contact me for an appointment by e-mail or call me at (530) 759-9659.

E. Fee Structure

My current fees for creation of Revocable Living Trust are:

Single (including widowed, divorced, etc.): $500
Married: $1000
These fees include the following:

Basic Documents:
  • Revocable Living Trust
  • Children's Trust
  • Certified Extract of Trust
  • General Transfer Document
  • Property Agreement (for married couples)
  • Pour-Over Will(s)
  • Durable Powers(s) of Attorney for Property
  • Durable Power(s) of Attorney for Health Care
Asset Transfer Assistance:
  • Schedule of Trust Assets
  • Deeds for up to three transfers of real property interests
  • Form letters for liquid asset transfers
  • Written Transfer Instructions
Additional Estate Planning Aids:
  • Written Trustee Instructions
  • Estate Organizer
  • Estate Plan Documents Binder
  • Document Notary Service (when personally delivered)
  • Telephone question-and-answer service for follow-up questions

My fees for a Revocable Living Trust are among the lowest in this field of law. I am able to keep my fees as low as possible because I believe in providing high-quality legal services at affordable prices. I like to look at this as a "win-win" situation for both my clients and myself. I have designed my practice around several factors that allow me to maintain these low fees. Just like anyone in business, my fees are based on a combination of my expenses and the profit I wish to make. In both areas, I try to be as reasonable as I can.

First, by meeting with clients in their homes or offices, I avoid the cost of maintaining an expensive set of offices, including the rent, furnishings, employees and other expensive services connected to operating a workplace. In order to properly serve clients over an area within a 45-minute drive from my home, I would probably have to maintain a series of such offices.

Second, I try to use my advertising dollars in innovative ways (such as this web page) which brings me a much wider exposure for far less cost than traditional methods, yet another saving I pass on to you.

Third, I provide you trust in a "no frills" way, so all you pay for is legal advice and legal documents, not for leather binders or "complete funding service". I produce Trust documents in a suitable presentation of a vinyl binder, with clearly labeled tabs separating the documents and I provide the letters and deeds you will need to transfer your assets to the Trust. You will need to do some of the "footwork" to deliver or mail the letters and deeds to the proper locations.

Fourth, I keep my profits to a reasonable level. Although my spouse and I are raising our two teen daughters, and enjoy travel and golf as our major hobbies, I do not need to amass a large fortune at the expense of others. I make a comfortable living by helping my clients create the documents needed to distribute their estate in an orderly and inexpensive way.

This is my "win-win" process. If I can be of service to your in creating your Revocable Living Trust, contact me for an appointment by e-mail or call me at (530) 759-9659.


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