Going through probate court in California is often a complicated process involving the intents and requirements of multiple parties, such as the state, trustees and the decedent. As such, many families make every effort to simplify and accelerate these inheritance procedures before entering into court, or to avoid probate entirely. Estate planning might prove an integral part of such an attempt— a process that often involves the establishment of trusts.
In its guide to wills and trusts, the American Bar Association recommends the use of trusts in various situations. In particular, they recommend an inter vivos trust to help trustees care for an individual while he or she is still alive. This type of trust, in correlation with other documents, might also be useful in reducing conflicts in probate over the allocation or reimbursement of resources expended on caregiving.
Assets of over $150,000 that are not included in a trust must be distributed through probate court to the decedent's beneficiaries. The State Bar of California has an online resource portal with discussions how trusts might allow beneficiaries to handle estates outside of probate court. As probate court is often more expensive and laborious than trust administration, people often establish trusts when they wish to simplify the process of inheritance.
The guide published by the State Bar of California also mentions that an individual might serve as his or her own trustee: a common strategy in situations where maintaining control of financial resources is preferable to naming an unsupervised third party. Choosing a trust administrator is often just as important to successful estate planning as selecting the correct type of trust.