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In what circumstances is a living trust a good option?

One thing about estate planning that can make it challenging is how so many people view the process as making "death arrangements." While planning out your wishes, your property disbursements and other personal issues does include end-of-life elements, it is really more about living. Taking control of your assets while you are alive usually enhances a person's quality of life. A living trust is just one of the estate planning tools that can give you the peace of mind necessary to enjoy the rest of your life.

For some California residents, having a simple will in place is a good choice. However, when multiple assets of significant worth are at stake, a living trust can offer security and stability. It may help to look at it this way. If you are quite young and have no children and few valuable assets, you might not need a living trust.

Having said that, you should know that a living trust is useful in more ways than one. For example, if you were to become severely injured or ill enough to cause incapacity, a living trust can mean your assets remain under your protection. This is especially so if you also have a durable financial power of attorney in your estate plan. Another example is if you are married and own separate assets. Without some form of legal documentation such as a living trust, a power of attorney or both, the management of these assets may be subject to court intervention.

Finally, you should not base your decisions on estate planning solely on the content of this generalized blog post. As with any legal documentation, your best bet is to consult with an estate planning attorney about the details of your unique circumstances.

Source: The State Bar of California, "Do I need a living trust?," accessed March 31, 2016

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