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San Clemente Journal

Why put your assets in a Living Trust in California?

Apr 03, 2024 09:13AM ● By Monique Runge
by Monique Runge

It’s a new year ...

... with wonderful expectations ahead for a brighter economic opportunity in real estate and mortgages. Each year, I work with many different families of all ages across California to help them achieve their real estate goals, improve annual income tax benefits, and help establish a short- and long-term financial plan that encompasses all their assets.   

When applying for a mortgage, it requires a forensic audit of one’s financial details for underwriting review. This includes monthly banking practices, expenses, insurances, income, credit, and federal income tax filings for both personal and corporate. During this process, I uncover aspects that should be addressed for the benefit of the borrower that are unknown.  Often, the conversation ends with, “What are your plans for your assets if you die”.

Historically many have used a Will and Testament to explain how they want their assets to be dispersed at a time of death. However, in California, this will require the long and expensive process through California probate court. You will be required to pay for a statutory probate attorney and an executor commission between 1-4% depending on the estate value. Probate in California has been proven to be costly and consumes a large percentage of the value of the estate.  

The purpose of establishing a Living Trust is to create a legal document that names a trustee who manages the financial estate plan and can grant assets to a beneficiary as named and directed. A living trust should be accompanied by a power of attorney for finance and healthcard directive. Living Trust is that it is unlikely to be successfully challenged by anyone and protects your assets if you are incapacitated. 

Choose type of Living Trust 
There are two types of living Trusts:
•   Revocable Living Trust allows for changes of assets and beneficiaries. Most people establish a Revocable Living Trust and only make changes when more assets are acquired, or a beneficiary dies.   
•   Irrevocable Living Trust does not allow for any changes and all control has been relinquished permanently. One and done.
Choose a Trustee 
Someone who can be trusted to be knowledgeable and responsible for maintaining all financial aspects of the Trust. A complex Trust will often need to hire a professional trustee to service the needs.   

Choose an Estate Attorney and/or Financial Planner  
An Estate Attorney can help navigate through all aspects of a complex Trust which includes tax planning, legal advice, and proper handling of the estate’s finances. A financial planner can be an advisor for investment plans for all cash assets, life insurance, retirement, and spending.
The Cost
To set up a Living Trust with assistance in California, the price ranges between $2000-$4500. It all depends on the size of the Estate and what is needed. Money well spent to protect your assets and your future.    

Start having conversations now with your beneficiaries and trusted advisors. What is most important is to protect yourself and your hard-earned assets today. It is proven that we are going to live longer than our grandparents did so preparation for the future is important while we are clear-minded and able.

Every month, I speak with adults struggling with helping their aging parents and their overall well-being because in some cases no solid financial or health care plan is in place. Ignorance is not BLISS. Long term plans are important to have with today’s increasing cost of assisted living.
At the end of every loan I close, I have the Trust conversation with my borrowers to educate them on the value and benefits that they may be missing out on.  

These are the golden years so “Keep on Trucking’” my mom, aka Naughty Nana, would say.  

Monique Runge is a certified mortgage broker living in San Clemente, Ca. Serving California residents for over 25 years. She can be reached at 559-270-7447 or [email protected].

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