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A living trust is created during a person’s lifetime, while they are still alive. While a person is still living, they transfer title to their property from their name to the trustee of the living trust. Once a person transfers property into a living trust, it is the trustee who becomes the legal owner of the transferred assets. Many clients make themselves the initial “trustee" of the trust, and they choose their children as co-trustees or they are placed in a specific order of procession.
For some, they either do not have any children or they do not wish to use their children as trustees. In this case, they might choose another family member, friends or trust companies or banks. Whomever they choose as the co-trustee does not necessarily have to have extensive experience in accounting, law or trust administration and management, however they should be willing to invest the amount of time necessary for trust management and they should be willing to seek professional help when the need arises.
Just because you place your property in a trust does not mean that you lose control of it. Since you will most likely be the initial trustee, you will be in charge of what happens to your property. It will be up to you to take it out of the trust, or use it as you did before the trust was created, or just leave it alone. Having a living trust will allow you to manage your assets as a single unit and a trust will ensure that your property distribution is handled efficiently upon your death.
The first plan of action would be to hire an Orange County estate planning attorney who will draw up the trust document. Included within the document will be the names of the trustors (the people who are setting up the trust). Typically, the trust will also name successor trustees such as other people, banks, or trust companies. Upon incompetency, resignation or death of the original trustee(s), the successor trustee will take over management of the trust.
Additionally, if both trustees die, the trust will provide for distribution of the assets, much like a will. It can include provisions for younger family members, schools, charities etc. If you would like to learn more about living trusts or any other aspect of estate planning, it is highly encouraged that you get the involvement of an experienced estate planning lawyer that you can trust – these are complex situations that deserve comprehensive treatment. By working with an attorney that understands this area of the law, you will be able to take the necessary steps towards planning for your future, as well as those of your entire family.