HDL Hi-Desert Law

Preserving Your Legacy Through Estate Planning

Answering Your Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning, Wills And Trusts

Hi-Desert Law, located in Yucca Valley, was founded by wealth protection attorney Don “DJ” Ross. Formerly a peace officer and children’s victim/witness advocate for the district attorney’s office, he founded his law firm to protect California families. His goal for every client is to create an estate plan that preserves their hard-earned wealth and assets for their family. He is also passionate about creating emergency guardianship plans for families with children, in the unlikely event that tragedy strikes.

Attorney Ross knows that there are a lot of questions that can arise when considering a will and the various trust options that can go into an estate plan. Here, he provides answers for some of the most commonly asked questions from clients. He also offers a free, initial consultation to answer any specific questions that you have.

Why do I need a will?

Without a will, your estate and assets will be distributed according to the state laws of California without any input from you. Your property will go to whomever the law says should get it. In addition to designating beneficiaries for the distribution of your property, a will can specify your wishes for other things, like who you want to take care of your children or pets or how you would like your funeral to be handled. A will must go through the probate process, and a court will oversee the process and make sure that the terms of your will are carried out.

Do I need to have a trust if I have a will?

A will, without a trust, must be probated in probate court, which can result in large expenses and significant delays. If you have or own more than $100,000 in personal assets and wealth, or if you have children, it is highly recommended to have a trust to preserve your property and assets for your heirs. In addition, a will and a trust can work together. Having a trust will help make your assets available to your family quickly in a streamlined and seamless process that is activated from the moment of your death. A trust does not have to go through probate. The probate process can take a year or even longer to allow your assets and money to be available for your heirs. But with a trust, the successor named in your trust takes over, the accounts are maintained, and your property can be preserved and passed on relatively quickly.

What is a revocable trust?

A revocable trust identifies assets and explains how you would like them to be handled. It is sometimes referred to as a “living trust” because it is active and you use it while you are still alive. You can continue to put assets into the trust or take them out as needed. The terms of the trust can also be amended and changed as needed.

Does a revocable trust ever become irrevocable?

A revocable trust is usually written to have triggering events that make it irrevocable. For example, it can become irrevocable when the grantor (sometimes called a settler) dies. Once the grantor dies, the terms of the trust cannot be amended. Typically, depending on the terms of the trust, assets can no longer be added or withdrawn.

Once a trust becomes irrevocable, does that mean you can never make any changes to it?

It depends on how the revocable trust was designed and the specific terms that make it irrevocable. In the state of California, an irrevocable trust may be broken or changed if all the beneficiaries can agree on the changes.

Does a trust last forever?

It depends on the type of trust. A charitable trust or a public benefits trust could be drafted to last for a long time. Usually, a trust has a timeline and will close upon the death of the grantor or settler, and its assets are distributed according to the terms of the trust.

How do I plan a guardianship for my children?

A will can suggest guardianship options for the care of your child should something happen to you. However, attorney DJ Ross encourages all families to have an emergency guardianship plan should something happen to both parents as part of their comprehensive estate plan. He offers this free of charge because, as a former peace officer and victim witness advocate, he was witness to situations where parents died unexpectedly without a plan.

Do You Still Have Questions? Call Today For A Free Consultation.

It can be overwhelming to think about everything that goes into an estate plan. Hi-Desert Law simplifies the process and helps you get exactly what you need. The firm offers a free consultation appointment to answer any questions you may have. Call 760-999-2095 or send an email through the online form to schedule your initial consultation today.