What’s included in a Complete Trust Package from Vanguard Legal Group?

At Vanguard Legal Group, our team of experienced attorneys want you and your heirs to be well protected. All our Trusts are part of a Complete Trust Package. Here’s what’s included in each of our Trust packages: 

Estate Planning Organizer

This creates a checklist of important documents and their locations, lists the names and contact information of key associates, catalogs your digital asset inventory and helps ensure all documents are organized and accessible.

Certification of Trust

This is the document you use to properly fund your Trust (it formally puts your possessions into your Trust).

Declaration of Trust

This is the document used to establish the primary details of the Trust and clearly outline all your specific wishes.

Pourover Will

In case you make a mistake and forget to put something in your Trust over time, this provides proof you meant to do that. 

Advance Healthcare Directive & HIPAA Release

This provides the legal ability for someone you designate to make critical healthcare decisions if you can’t and may also provide instructions to healthcare professionals. 

Durable Power of Attorney (POA)

This provides the legal ability for someone you designate to make critical financial decisions if you can’t.

Comprehensive Transfer Agreement

This document provides for the easy transfer of all assets to your Trust all at once. That includes any assets without a formal title such as family heirlooms, collections, or other types of personal property. 

Grant Deed

This is the document that provides the legal power to transfer your property into your Trust, thus avoiding probate. This grant deed legally transfers your real estate into the Trust once it’s notarized. 

At Vanguard Legal Group, after we scan a copy of your documents to a secure server, we then provide you with all your original documents in a Vanguard binder. Also included in the binder are very clear instructions on the use of each document, along with directions on how to properly fund your Trust. Plus, our team is always standing by to answer any questions you may have. 

Each and every Trust document is customized to suit your specific needs and always created for a flat fee, with no hidden costs. Need to ask your attorney a question about your Trust? We’ll never charge you just to speak with your attorney.


Legal & Estate planning FAQs

Vanguard FAQs

What is Joint Tenancy?

Joint Tenancy is a type of shared ownership, where each owner would have undivided interest to the property. This type of ownership creates a right of survivorship. That means when one owner dies, the other absorbs the deceased owner’s interest. On the surface, this seems like a nice solution to replace the need for a Will & Trust. Unfortunately, it also comes with several unforeseen pitfalls.

Why can Joint Tenancy be a problem?
  1. Tax implications: When a property owner passes away, and the property held in Trust is transferred to a trustee, the Trustee inherits the property at its current market value and doesn’t pay the capital gains tax on the difference between the deceased individual’s purchase price and current fair market value when the property is sold. In the case of Joint Tenancy, the increase in cost basis on the home would not occur and the joint tenant could be subject to significant capital gains taxes. That means that your beneficiary could face a burdensome tax bill if your real property is ever sold.
  2. Liability: Anyone on the deed is considered an owner. If you put someone on the deed that owns a business, has significant debt, owes the IRS, injures someone in a DUI accident, or has a personal guarantee on a loan, all homeowners would be liable.
  3. Divorce: Suppose a property owner adds a joint tenant. That joint tenant is married and goes through divorce proceedings. The jointly owned home will pass through the divorce proceedings as an asset of the joint tenant and will be subject to proceedings as shared property.
What happens if I die with a Trust?

When someone dies with a Trust, there will be no Probate. However, specific legal requirements must be addressed quickly for the estate to be settled with no delay in distributions. Click here to read what’s involved in the administration of a Trust. At Vanguard, we understand the challenge of losing a loved one. We can take care of the entire administrative process quick and painlessly, simplifying a tricky and time consuming process.

What happens if I die without a Trust?

When you pass away without a Trust, and assets (including your home) worth more than $184,500, the entire estate enters a process called probate. In short, this is an arduous, lengthy and costly public court case where your belongings and all your personal information are made public throughout the process and the state of CA determines who gets your stuff. More painfully, there is most often a 6% (or greater) fee associated with the successful culmination of this lengthy process.

Can I change my Trust?

Absolutely. A revocable Trust provides you with the freedom and ability to make changes to your trustees or distributions whenever you choose. Once the revocable trust is written, you can change your trust as often or as infrequently as you like. Because the nature of changing a legal document involves redrafting, there will be fees incurred when a change is made to ensure changes are properly executed, leaving you completely protected. These changes tend to be quick and easy, though.

To the contrary, if you want your Trust to be unchangeable, a very small minority of clients choose an irrevocable Trust. These Trusts, once notarized are unable to be changed.

If something were to happen to us who would care for our minor children?

If you die without a Trust, the State of California will determine who will care for your minor children. Click Here to read how a Trust can avoid this unnecessary trauma.

To the contrary, if you want your Trust to be unchangeable, a very small minority of clients choose an irrevocable Trust. These Trusts, once notarized are unable to be changed.

What happens if I lose the capacity to pay my bills and don’t have a Trust?

The State of California provides a path to conservatorship for those without a Trust and incapable of managing their affairs. If someone knows you’ve lost capacity, they can petition the court to be granted conservatorship. If you succeed in being granted a conservatorship, it is important to note that, like Probate, they are very time intensive and can be extremely costly. If no one does this, and there is no named Power of Attorney, this individual could likely enter into default on outstanding debts needing servicing.

What happens if I lose capacity to pay my bills and have a Trust?

With a Trust: The individual named as the Power of Attorney can seamlessly begin to act on behalf of the individual lacking capacity, paying bills and making other substantial timely decisions. Every complete Will & Trust package includes a Power of Attorney which allows our client to name an individual that can act on their behalf in these exact circumstances.

What if I can’t make medical decisions for myself and don’t have a Trust?

Without a Trust: An individual that is aware you are in this position can petition a court to be granted conservatorship, allowing them to act on behalf of the disabled individual. The process of being granted a conservatorship is very costly and time consuming. This is not an immediate process and can affect the quality of healthcare and healthcare decisions that must be made in the meantime.

What if I can’t make medical decisions for myself and have a Trust?

With a Trust: An Advanced Healthcare Directive, included with every complete Will & Trust package from Vanguard, provides the power for a Trusted individual to immediately step in and make vital healthcare decisions at the exact time they need to be made, honoring the wishes of the individual that built the Trust.

Is the Trust a public document/recorded anywhere?

A Trust is a completely confidential document. Only you and your trustees will ever know the contents and decisions made in the Trust. Only the Will, one of 9 documents in the Trust, is ever made public and only lodged after death. To the contrary, if you pass without a Trust, the entire Probate process will be publicly available throughout the entire court case.

If I pass away before the Trust is finalized, am I protected?

No. The best time to create a Trust is yesterday. If you pass away before your Trust is finalized, you have a 100% chance of going into probate when your assets are over $184,500.

What’s the difference between a revocable and irrevocable Trust?

A revocable Trust can be changed at any time by the individual Trustor that created it. A majority of our Trusts fit into this category and we usually counsel our clients to this end. An Irrevocable Trust cannot be changed once it is notarized. In only a few specific circumstances do we recommend irrevocable Trusts to our clients.

I need to make a change to the Trust, who do I contact?

Reach out to the team. We’re constantly reminding our clients of the need to keep everything up to date and in the Trust. You’ll likely get an annual reminder from us to keep everything up to date, but if you need a change, call Client Services at (858)384-5777

Can Vanguard Legal Group be my Trustee?

Yes. It’s vitally important that you pick someone trustworthy to serve as the Trustee. While they are legally obligated to follow the instructions within your Trust, they can create a whole lot of problems for your estate (and themselves) if they don’t. To the contrary, if you cannot find someone you trust to carry out your wishes, Vanguard is licensed by the CA State Bar Association to act as a Trustee for any estate within California.

What happens if my Trustee doesn’t follow my wishes in the Trust?

They are subject to legal penalties and any beneficiary could sue this individual and they would be civilly liable for a lack follow through. This is why we suggest choosing a person you trust. In the case that can’t occur, you can choose Vanguard to be your trustee and we are licensed and required by the state bar to follow your exact wishes.

Do you charge to speak with the attorney, ask questions or get advice?

We never charge to talk with a lawyer. Our team can answer any questions you may have regarding your Trust or any work we’ve done on your estate. A common example: We get hundreds of calls from clients that have recently refinanced their home and need direction about how to correctly put this asset in Trust. We will always be available to guide and direct you so that your original wishes are honored and executed during your life and after you’ve passed. Some clients wish to make modifications to their Trust based on changes in their life, family or financial situations. See Can I change my Trust? to read about changing your Trust.

Do you include everything we need inside the complete Will & Trust package?

Yes! Every single document you need to plan and execute your estate plan are included with our Will and Trust package. One new deed is included for processing in each Trust package. Click Here

Are there any additional fees involved?

There are no additional fees involved in the legal work for your Will & Trust package. We even include the deed on your primary CA residence in the cost quoted. When legalizing the Trust, client is responsible for payment of third-party notary services. We can help arrange those services with our mobile notary or at our offices, but this is not required. Additional properties, besides the one included, or out-of-state deeds can incur extra fees.  

Where is Vanguard Legal Group located?

Vanguard Legal Group has 52 convenient locations throughout California available for in-person consultations. We also specialize in remote consultations, meaning that you can plan, approve, notarize and execute your entire Trust without leaving the comfort of your home. Our core team is headquartered in North County San Diego, CA.

Do you have Spanish speaking attorneys?

Yes. While our services aren’t exclusively Spanish, some of our lawyers are conversationally proficient in Spanish. If you’d feel more comfortable with fully translated legal counsel, we can arrange for you to have a translator at any/all appointments with your counsel

Do you handle Probate?

None of Vanguard’s Trust documents have ever failed and sent a client to Probate. There are circumstances where an existing client refers someone to us that is going through Probate. In these cases, we are happy to engage clients on a case-by-case basis walking them through this process and helping them achieve a favorable result. Reach out to Client Services, if you’re going through Probate and need help!  

Can Vanguard help me create or establish an S-corp, LLC or other corporate entity?

Yes. We help our clients to establish all sorts of corporate entities and can take you through the whole process painlessly from start to finish.

Can Vanguard help me to establish a tax-sheltered philanthropic giving entity?

Yes. Vanguard Legal Group can assist with the establishment of a charitable giving Foundation, allowing you to donate tax-deductible contributions and decide when it’s convenient to what organizations to donate.

How long does the process take to set up my Trust?

After the initial attorney meeting, we will typically provide you first drafts in 3-4 weeks. You’ll then review the documents and make any changes necessary. As soon as your drafts are approved, a notary is scheduled and within 4-6 weeks from start to finish, your Trust can be formalized.  In emergency situations, clients can engage the firm to expedite this process.

How do I make a change to the Trust?

Our typical Trusts are fully revocable, which means they can be changed at any time. We realize that life is full of fluctuations that require flexibility and adjustment. You have the freedom to do this and we’re here to help. You can contact the team at Vanguard to engage us for Trust changes at any time. As always, the changes will be billed at a transparent and discounted fee for existing clients.


Revocable Living Trust Concepts: The Basics

Revocable Living Trust Concepts: The Basics

Living trusts, sometimes called revocable living trusts, are legal contracts established by a person, referred to as the trustmaker. The purpose of the trust is to own and control the assets of the trustmaker in such a way that the trustmaker’s liability for income, inheritance and other taxes is lessened. The value held by the revocable living trust can be invested, or used to purchase material items, at the direction of the trustee. Usually, the trustmaker is both the beneficiary of the trust as well as the trustee controlling it.

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Tax Implications of Adding a Family Member to Your Deed

Tax Implications of Adding a Family Member to Your Deed

At first it seems like the easy, smart, money-saving path to take. Simply add your children to the deed of your home, bypass the probate process, and minimize costs to the children. This strategy is very common. The idea is to hold real property jointly with family members who are given what is called “rights of survivorship.”

There are major disadvantages to adding your children directly to your deed, and is not recommended.

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