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What is a Family Trust?

Los Angeles Trust Attorney

A family trust is also known as a living trust or a revocable living trust. It is a legal document that allows the individual who made it to make changes at will during his or her lifetime. A family trust addresses how the creator's assets are handled before and after death. The provisions contained in the trust document may include anything from real estate property to beneficiaries and cash allocations.

The structure of the family trust includes three main players, the grantor, the trustee, and the beneficiary. The grantor is the creator of the trust and may also be called the settlor. The grantor is the person who creates the family trust, normally with the assistance of a trust lawyer who specializes in trust preparation. The trustee is the person who is entrusted by the grantor to manage the trust property according to the terms set forth in the trust.

With many revocable living trusts, the grantor or settlor traditionally plays all three roles during their lifetime. The successor trustee only gains control of the property while the grantor is still living when he or she is determined by law to be incapacitated. Once the grantor dies, the successor trustee takes over, who is compelled by law to distribute the trust property to the beneficiaries exactly as the grantor desired.

A family trust is designed for the purpose of passing assets directly to children or other heirs instead of them being automatically passed to a surviving spouse. It also may be set up to conduct a family business. Unlike a will, it allows the transfer of assets to the beneficiaries before a person's death. It shelters and protects the family's assets and provides certain tax benefits. It may be a revocable living trust or an irrevocable trust.

About Family Trusts in Los Angeles

Many families set up a family trust to reduce inheritance taxes, which may occur when property is transferred from parents to their children. A family trust is commonly established to avoid probate proceedings, create privacy, and for the management of financial affairs. Family trusts ensure that children are provided for, especially special needs children. It also may provide income for all children while parents are still in control of the trust, protect assets from creditors, and create an enduring structure for future wealth.

Contact our family trusts attorney today.

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