Fresno, CA asked in Estate Planning for California

Q: My mortgage is paid and I have a small savings ($150,000) which I want to give to my son when I pass. Best way?

He needs it to be stress free and without costs to inherited, but can this be done?

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3 Lawyer Answers
Julie King
Julie King
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Monterey, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: The only way an attorney can answer your question is to review all of your assets, ask your main goals (besides what is listed in your question), and gather more information. But I'll give you a general answer. In California, anyone who has assets that collectively total $184,500 in value has two main choices (among others): First, the person can set up a trust and put specific assets into the trust. In this situation, everything is handled privately within the family after the person with the trust passes away. There is no public record of assets, debts, etc., unless someone files a lawsuit to challenge the trust. Alternatively, the person can have a Will or do no estate planning, but that means the relatives left behind will likely have to go through a court process called Probate, which I liken to an IRS audit because there is a lot of detailed work that must be done. For example, all assets must be placed on various documents and, if you put an asset on the wrong document, the court will reject the document. So, it's a cliché governmental bureaucratic process. It's also a public process in which anyone who wants to know your business can read all about it in the court's file. Some people say they don't care who knows their assets, debts, names and addresses of everyone in their immediate family, etc. because they'll be gone! Other people say that they don't care if they're here or not, they don't want anyone knowing their business. Contact an estate planning attorney and learn more about your options. Best wishes!

Yelena Gurevich agrees with this answer

Robert P. Taylor
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Answered
  • Huntington Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: It sounds like you'd be a good candidate for a living trust or a transfer on death deed but we'd have to know more before we could say for sure.

James L. Arrasmith
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Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, one of the best ways to pass on your savings to your son without complications and costs is through a revocable living trust. By creating a trust, you can designate your son as the beneficiary, and the assets in the trust will pass to him outside of probate, which can streamline the process and potentially reduce costs and stress associated with inheritance.

James L. Arrasmith

Founder and Chief Legal Counsel of The Law Offices of James L. Arrasmith

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