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If you are a multi - millionaire and you live in CA , is a revocable living trust still needed vs some other trust ?

Los Angeles, CA |

My grandfather is worth tens of millions of dollars from various real estate selling , life insurance from my grandmother , and various stock / bond investments . He only trust his investment advisor but not the trust dept of the advisor's company . He does not have a trust and my dad has convinced him he needs one . But he is one of those old school thinking types ( also stubborn and a bit paranoid ) where he has to read up on everything himself before he goes to see an attorney . I read in various news outlets that everyone needs a living trust . But he said he read that after a certain amount of money , he needs other types . I was telling him he needs a living trust and probably other types also . But everyone needs AT LEAST a living trust . Any insight ? Thanks .

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Attorney answers 5

Best Answer

You are definitely right in concluding that he needs an attorney. With a multi million dollar estate tied up in a variety of assets, he will definitely need a variety of instruments to help protect his assets. He will probably want a revocable living trust, because that allows him more control over the assets of the trust. However, the revocable living trust will only be a small part of the trust. He'll also need to create one or more irrevocable trusts as part of his estate plan.
Because he probably won't go to an attorney before he reads up on it himself, it might be a good idea to get him some reading material.

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I usually do not answer 3rd hand questions but I am making an exception: No. Not everyone needs a revocable trust.

Revocable trusts are great estate planning tools for many but for the very wealthy there are other tools which may serve them better. And, unless there is ownership of real property, a revocable trust is probably overkill for a lower-middle class individual or family.

Estate planning involves knowing the testator's specific intent and exact specific facts regarding the testator's wealth and income. The only specific estate planning device everyone should have, IMO, is a will.

That being said, depending on your grandfather’s intent and the nature and extent of his assets, a revocable trust might be one of the estate planning tools he could use.

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There are a number of estate planning tools that might benefit your grandfather. Reasons why those tools might help are typically focused on transferring the maximum legal amount to his heirs. This can be accomplished through saving on tax costs, making sure any possible tax breaks are achieved, etc.

In addition to creating one or more trusts, it may help him to get legal counseling on how best to ensure that bank account funds, vehicles, life insurance, annuities and other assets may be transferred, whether inside a trust, or outside, to the best benefit if the heirs.

Finally, by not having good estate planning, and by transferring a sizable estate via a will, for example, probate proceedings will likely be mandatory. Those proceedings are typically public and time consuming. Further, through wills and trusts, he can designate who manages his assets as they are distributed, or as they continue to grow in value, depending on his wishes.

Please ask him to get in touch with a good estate planning attorney to work through how he would like his estate managed after his death.

The above is not intended to be legal advice, but may be used for general information. Please contact an attorney for specific help tailored to your needs.


I agree that he needs an attorney and should probably review his estate plan and goals with a few before making a decision. There are many wonderful estate planning attorneys in California. To answer your question fully an attorney would need more information, but I can say this. It is not the living trust itself that is the issue - it is what is in the trust that is important. The general benefits to a revocable living trust are: avoiding probate, maintaining privacy, handling incapacity, dealing with multi state real estate. Within that basic structure many things can be done in addition: an irrevocable trust to hold life insurance and at the same time remove it from the taxable estate so later estate taxes can be paid. He may also want other types of trust for the holding of real estate and insulating from liability. The bottom line is there is nothing magical about a revocable living trust, only what the terms of it are and how it works with the other parts of the plan.

This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website:


A revocable living trust is an estate planning tool that serves in heritance planning purposes.

Given the size and nature of his estate, your grandfather needs different legal tools that serve specific purposes: tax planning, inheritance planning and asset protection planning.

I would strongly recommend him to schedule a consultation with at least a reputable estate planning attorney and an attorney that has proven expertise in the area of asset protection planning.

Douglass Lodmell is the nations #1 Asset Protection attorney and has clients in all 50 states, protecting over $4 Billion in client assets. Answers given by him in this forum do not establish an attorney-client relation. He advises to seek a specialized attorney in the area of your interest for legal representation.