Probate and Trusts

At death a person's assets are generally subject to a Court proceeding called "probate" before the assets can be distributed to the intended beneficiaries.

Probate proceedings can take from six months to two years (and occasionally longer), and require the payment of substantial attorneys' and executors' fees.
Details on probate fees »

Probate is a cumbersome method of asset transfer.

We often advise clients to consider establishing a "Living Trust" to avoid both the burdens of probate and the potential need for a conservatorship.

If an individual has set up a trust during his or her lifetime and has transferred title to all of their assets to the trust, the Successor Trustee can act without waiting for probate.

Probate and trust legal help from Marin attorneys

The Successor Trustee can make sure that any taxes owed are paid. He or she can administer or distribute the assets in accordance with the directions contained in the Trust Agreement far more efficiently — and usually at a much lower cost — than if there were a probate.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Julia P. Wald are experienced in helping clients evaluate the benefits and potential drawbacks of Living Trusts.

Our attorneys help prepare Wills, Living Trusts, and other trust documents. We help individuals correctly transfer assets into trusts so that their desires are honored by the courts.

Whether or not you decide to set up a Living Trust, our attorneys will help you establish a comprehensive estate plan. We will also help you establish a schedule of appropriate periodic reviews of that plan, your assets, how you hold title to your assets, and your existing beneficiary designations.

Federal and state tax laws affecting asset administration and inheritance continue to change annually. It is important that your documents — even those only a few years old — be brought up to date to avoid unnecessary taxes and administrative difficulties.

Married couples in particular can save tens of thousands of tax dollars by doing proper estate planning.

(See additional information on Special Needs Trusts)