Q: Do I need a living trust if the beneficiary is already in the property title?
I have a couple of homes. One is paid for; the second one is about half the way through the loan life. My wife is on both titles, but I am the loan borrower alone.
I want to create a living trust. Does she need to be named if she is in the title already? We (wife and I) have a son; can I name him as the second beneficiary in line?
Contemplating the post mortem disposition of your two properties , is important, and I encourage you to continue down this path,
but I believe you would be better served by engaging in
a comprehensive estate plan with an estate planning attorney.
The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended nor should be construed as legal advice for any particular case or client. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney. This posting is not intended to constitute an advertisement or a solicitation.
Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer
The law in California is this (at a very high level): if a person has assets totalling more than $166,250 in value, then there are two ways your loved ones can get those assets after the owner's passing: (1) have a trust with assets re-titled in the name of the trust; or (2) go through the year-long probate court process. If you own two pieces of real estate, it is very likely that you need a trust to avoid probate, but a lawyer would need to speak with you to ask a number of questions to be sure.
As to your question about the title to real estate, it will depend on the way the real estate is titled. For example, if you and the other person are on title as Joint Tenants or title is in Community Property With The Right of Survivorship, then that property would automatically transfer to the other person upon your death. If the real estate is titled in another way, you likely need a trust.
The cost to set up a trust is higher than the cost to set up a Will, but the OVERALL cost of distribution with a Will is much higher because: (1) the legal fees are set by law in probate and lawyers almost always make A LOT more money through probate; (2) your loved ones must wait until probate is over before they can get their hands on your assets; and (3) probate has other costs that are not required if assets are distributed privately within the family as they are with a trust. I hope this helps!
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