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Trusts may help if you own property outside of California

You are trying to decide if it is wise to use a trust while doing your estate planning. You know how helpful they can be, but you just need to determine whether or not your specific situation means that you'll really enjoy all of the benefits.

Do you own property in another state? For instance, perhaps you first lived in Washington before moving down the coast to California. You still have your house in Washington, which you and your family visit every few months to see your extended family.

A trust can help. If you do not have a beneficiary deed in Washington -- or any other state where you have real estate -- then your home there has to go through probate. That can take time -- weeks, months or even years in some cases -- and it can be expensive. Putting the property in a trust can help you avoid probate.

Or, perhaps you have a vacation home that you bought overseas. Maybe your family loved visiting Italy, so you purchased a small home on the coast. Dealing with foreign property just makes things even more complicated, and a trust may help make this easier on your family. If your main goal is to reduce costs and simplify the process for them, it is something to consider.

Now, every situation is clearly different, but more complex estates often need more complex solutions. Make sure you know all of the options that you have, what benefits they may provide and exactly what legal steps you need to take to utilize them properly.

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