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Does a trust really keep an estate out of court?

Many residents of Fresno and the surrounding areas have probably heard about how living trusts can help a family "avoid probate" and are thus almost always a good deal for any family, no matter how much they have in assets.

The fact that trusts do not themselves have to go through probate court California is true, and this can save a lot of time and expense for those families who want to get on with life quickly after a loved one's death. Moreover, avoiding probate means much of a person's private finances stay out of the eyes of the public.

However, there are few misconceptions that should be cleared up about a trust being a vehicle to avoid probate. For one, there is a chance a person will need a pour over will, especially if he or she does not want to put every piece of property in to the trust right away, in order to make sure that all property ultimately winds up in the trust. Like every other will, a pour over will has to go through the probate process, although that process should be relatively short and efficient.

Perhaps more importantly, the fact trusts do not go through probate as a matter of routine does not mean trusts cannot get challenged in court. If a trust gets challenged for any reason, it will become a matter of public record, and the trust funds may get entangled in costly and time-consuming litigation.

Finally, it does take some time and money to set up a trust correctly, and in many cases, one can see creating a trust as doing the work of transferring assets now as opposed to during probate.

While trusts are of great benefit for many reasons, whether a trust is right for a Fresno family is really a question that depends heavily on the facts and circumstances. Such questions should be discussed with one's attorney.

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Law Office of Jeffrey B. Pape, P.C.
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