Palo Alto Trust Administration and Probate Attorneys
Experienced Estate Settlement Assistance in the Bay Area and All of California
Upon death, all assets in your estate must be distributed to beneficiaries. How this distribution takes place will depend on the existence or nonexistence of a trust and/or will.
Our Palo Alto trust administration and probate lawyers have provided professional estate planning guidance to discerning clients since 1983. We are extensively familiar with these complex processes and can offer the sound counsel you need to navigate what is undoubtedly a difficult moment. As innovators and pioneers in our field, our team at Gilfix & La Poll Associates LLP can conduct the estate settlement process with the alacrity, prudence, and respect your loved one deserves. Many of our clients routinely return to us for these services, and we are committed to serving the needs of your family now and in the future.
If your loved one has passed away and you need assistance with settling their estate, do not hesitate to contact us online or call (650) 683-9200.
Why You Need an Estate Plan
Every adult needs an estate plan, even if they are young and in good health. Passing away without crucial estate planning documents in place will result in your having no say in how your assets will be distributed. Instead, your estate property will be distributed in accordance with California’s intestacy laws.
When you die without a will or trust, your assets will be proportionately divided amongst your most immediate surviving relatives. If no family can be located, the state may inherit your property.
Formalizing a trust or will allows you to decide how and to whom your assets will be distributed. Each tool has its own distinct considerations.
We generally and heartily encourage our clients to create living trusts to hold their assets throughout their lifetime. In this arrangement, you will typically serve as your own trustee and have the ability to move assets in and out of the trust while you are alive. When you pass away, your chosen successor trustee will assume management of the trust. You can also appoint an alternate trustee to help you manage the trust’s affairs when you do not wish to or are unable to do so yourself.
A trust’s assets can often be efficiently and frictionlessly distributed to beneficiaries upon the death of the trustor. Assets may include cash, stocks, investments, real estate, personal effects, and more. Trust assets are not subject to probate and are in most circumstances subject to less “red tape.”
Trusts also allow for enhanced flexibility. You have increased control over when and under what circumstances assets are distributed to beneficiaries, even after you have passed away. For example, you might choose to specify that certain assets will be held for minor children until they are of a predetermined age.
Your successor trustee is legally obligated to distribute the trust’s assets in accordance with terms set forth in the trust agreement. These terms are revealed only to the trustees and beneficiaries, preserving your privacy and maintaining discretion. When a trust is appropriately implemented, your successor trustee will also be responsible for settling any outstanding debts or obligations once you have passed away.
Our Palo Alto trust administration and probate attorneys can help you set up your trust and assist successor trustees with each stage of the asset distribution process. We are also available to serve as your successor or alternate trustee.
Certified Specialists in Estate Planning & Elder Law
Co-Founder of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys
Pioneers in Elder Law & Estate Planning
Hundreds of Millions of Clients' Dollars in Taxes Saved
Thousands of Families in the Community Served
Over 35 Years of Serving the Bay Area
When you pass away without a trust to hold your assets, your estate must go through a court-supervised process known as “probate.” Probate facilitates the legal transfer of property from a deceased person to living persons. All probate activities, including disbursements of assets, are a matter of public record.
If you formalized a will, you will have hopefully named a personal representative to manage your estate. This personal representative will need to petition the applicable court to initiate probate and secure permission to exercise control over your estate assets. If your chosen personal representative is unavailable or unwilling to serve in this capacity, the court will appoint an alternate. The personal representative is responsible for communicating with the court, inventorying and appraising estate property, filing the decedent’s final tax returns, paying creditors, and ultimately distributing assets in accordance with the will’s instructions.
Our Palo Alto trust administration and probate lawyers can support personal representatives struggling to navigate what can be a complex and difficult process. We will leverage our over thirty years of experience to walk you through what steps must be taken, how to fulfill the legal responsibilities of the role, and how to honor the final wishes of the decedent. Our litigators at Gilfix & La Poll Associates LLP can also assist you with will and trust contests.
Contact us online or call (650) 683-9200 to learn more about how we can assist you with probate or trust administration.