California residents who are thinking about estate planning often have a false assumption that trusts are financial tools designed for millionaires. The truth is, anyone with at least $100,000 in assets may want to consider the benefits of setting up one or more trusts as part of their estate plan. When a large amount of a person's assets are held in real estate, an art collection or a business, a trust may be especially beneficial.
By placing assets in a trust, individuals can be assured that the assets will be distributed to the chosen beneficiaries upon their death without the need for the beneficiaries to go through the probate process. In addition to avoiding the time and expense of probate, a trust can in some cases reduce gift and estate taxes that often accompany an inheritance. A trust will also allow the details of family assets to remain private, as opposed to the public probate process.