Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of establishing a living trust?

Living trusts, especially revocable living trusts, are commonly used for estate planning purposes.  The benefits of establishing a revocable living trust include:

  • During your life, you will continue to have full control over your assets; 
  • If you become incapacitated due to illness or old age, your successor trustee will manage your assets for your benefit; and 
  • After your death, your assets will not be subject to probate, and will be either distributed to your beneficiaries or held for the benefit of your beneficiaries, depending on your wishes.  

A living trust allows you to plan your estate in the most flexible manner taking into account possible changed circumstances.

Is Joint Tenancy a good way to hold title to my home?

If you’re married and your home is community property, it is generally more advantageous to hold the title to your home as Community Property with Right of Survivorship instead of Joint Tenancy. The Community Property with Right of Survivorship is a more recent form of ownership, and many married couples who purchased their home years ago still hold the title to their home in Joint Tenancy. There are often significant tax savings in holding title as Community Property with Right of Survivorship especially if the home has appreciated in value.

As a Green Card holder (Permanent Resident), does my estate pay more tax?

The US estate tax exemption ($11.4 million in 2019 and subject to change every year) is the same for US citizens and Green Card holders. If your estate is within the exemption, no estate tax would be owed. For people with a large estate, the difference between a US citizen and a Green Card holder is the fact that the assets of the deceased spouse in excess of the exemption passed to the surviving spouse who is a Green Card holder may be subject to 40% estate tax. It is recommended that you plan your estate in advance as there are ways to handle these issues.

Note: The information contained in this page is general information and not meant to be advice for specific situations. For individual situations, please do not rely on the information contained in this page and consult with an attorney specialized in estate planning.