Other issues to consider in having a trust
Having title to real property in joint tenancy, that is, the property is 100% owned by the surviving party on the death of one party, may not be the answer for your estate for two important reasons: (1) capital gains tax will be more on the sale of the property by the surviving party; and (2) if both parties die, then the children or surviving heirs will have to probate the real property to transfer title to the heirs. Alternatively, with a Trust, the real property is transferred to the trust which enables successive trustees to be in control of the real property and avoid probate.
If you do not properly designate who will inherit everything after your death, then California law will make that decision for you by intestate succession or next-of-kin order.
If you do not have any living family and the property goes unclaimed, then the unclaimed property is transferred to California State Controller. Of course, if taxes are not paid on a home, then the County may take possession of the real property. Most unclaimed items are from bank accounts or safety deposit boxes when the decedent has not informed anyone of their existence or designated a beneficiary or the designated beneficiary cannot be located.
When you die without a properly executed trust or will, then the costs of transferring everything can cost thousands of dollars and take years as it goes through the probate.
Without the proper documents, if you become incompetent, your family may have to expend thousands of dollars just to have the right to take care of you and to direct your medical care, i.e., conservatorship.
There are many aspects to estate planning to provide clear instructions and avoid the high cost and time-consuming features of probate and/or if someone objects to the contents of the testamentary document which results in hurtful feelings, delay in distributing the estate and added court costs in contested litigation. Further, the tax aspects of estate planning can be very critical to the estate. Every person needs a thoughtful attorney on this sensitive, critical aspect of their lives.
Frazee Law Group provides Estate Planning to each individual based on their unique needs and desires. The services can be provided for a simple will for $200 or a more elaborate trust agreement including special agreements regarding the character of the property (especially if a re-marriage is involved), the starting rate for Trust agreement is $499, plus the cost of any additional document required, and can run as high as $5,000.00 if special trusts are created at the same time. If the person cannot travel to the Frazee Law Group office, then RoseAnn Frazee can meet with you at your home, office or hospital.