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California Trust Laws

When it comes to proper estate planning, most people tend to go with the theory that they have more than enough time to create a will or trust. However, it is never too early to begin thinking about where your property will go after you leave this world. California trust laws allow you to manage your property while you are alive to ensure that there is a seamless transition once you die. This is a quick summary of the trust laws in California.

Properly Transferring Property Through California Trust Laws

California law provides you with a variety of trust types which can be used to help you transfer benefits and property to specific loved ones. While setting up a trust can be fairly simple, a trust tends to have tax, probate, and personal consequences that can be very important to fully understand. Furthermore, abiding by the rules set out by the state of California is essential to setting up a proper trust. The following table outlines the specifics of California trust laws.

Code Sections

California Code - Division 9: Trust Law

Creation Requirements

California law states that a trust is created only if:

  • The settlor properly manifests an intention to create a trust;

  • There is trust property; and

  • There is a beneficiary (unless it is a charitable trust).

A trust in relation to real property is not valid unless evidenced by one of the following methods:

  • By a written instrument signed by the trustee, or by the trustee's agent if authorized in writing to do so.

  • By a written instrument conveying the trust property signed by the settlor, or by the settlor's agent if authorized in writing to do so.

  • By operation of law.

Methods of Creating Trusts

In California, a trust may be created by any of the following methods:

  • A declaration by the owner of property that the owner holds the property as trustee.

  • A transfer of property by the owner during the owner's lifetime to another person as trustee.

  • A transfer of property by the owner, by will or by other instrument taking effect upon the death of the owner, to another person as trustee.

  • An exercise of a power of appointment to another person as trustee.

  • An enforceable promise to create a trust.

Trust Purpose

Under California law, a trust may be created for any purpose that is not illegal or against public policy. A trust created for an indefinite or general purpose is not invalid for that reason if it can be determined with reasonable certainty that a particular use of the trust property comes within that purpose.

Deciding where your property will go after you die is an important step during your life. If you need legal assistance in creating a trust, you can contact a California trust lawyer through FindLaw. Visit FindLaw's sections on trusts and estate planning for more articles and information on this topic.

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