While most assets can be transferred into trust, certain assets are contractual in nature, and therefore cannot be “funded” into your trust.  The most relevant of these contractual assets are life insurance policies and retirement benefits.

While you cannot place these assets in trust*, you can name your revocable living trust (RLT) as the Designated Beneficiary.

Non-trust and Non-probate Transfers (part III)


As with joint tenancies and community property with right of survivorship, property which passes to individual(s) as a result of a designated beneficiary provision (life insurance and retirement assets, generally) is outright, and therefore free of any management by the decedent, and is subject to the beneficiary’s creditors.

Probate Litigation

Probate litigation is sometimes necessary to protect the rights of beneficiaries or heirs, potentially due to an unclear or poorly drafted will or due to a dispute among family members. Probate law in California can be complicated and these matters may easily become hotly contested due to emotionally charged issues and legal complexities.

Trust Administration

As Trustee of a trust, you have a duty to administer the trust pursuant to both the trust provisions, and relevant law.

When a trustmaker passes away, several items are put in motion.  While administering a trust estate is significantly easier than administering a probate estate, there are still several steps that must be followed, and laws that must be adhered to.

Valid Wills and Revocation

What constitutes a valid will? Can great Aunt Sally create a valid will by writing “I leave all of my earthly possessions to my cockatiel Cornelius. – Sally” in lipstick, on her vanity mirror? Does it need to be witnessed or notarized? 

A testator (the person making the will) generally must be 18 years old to make a valid will in California, unless they’re an emancipated minor.

Protecting Family Wealth

You may be familiar with the term, “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” It refers to the notion that a wealthy estate built up by one generation will have been lost by the third generation. Its English translation is often attributed to American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, but the adage is neither unique to English, nor modern.