Do I need to hire a living trust lawyer?
A living trust is a trust created during life to either save tax money or establish a long-term way to manage property. Living trusts are specifically designed to avoid probate and are also used to safeguard financial privacy and manage assets should the owner pass away or become incapacitated.
Many people who want to create a living trust contemplate hiring a living trust lawyer. Hiring a living trust lawyer can cost between $1,200 to $2,000, which does not itself guarantee you top quality service. You can use do-it-yourself books or software and pay around $40. If you are willing to invest some time using a high quality do-it-yourself product, you could create just as good a trust yourself.
The ease of creating a living trust is comparable to creating a last will and testament, which many people do without the help of a lawyer. To understand how easy it is, it is helpful to know what goes into a living trust. A living trust document usually starts with a very basic template and includes the following information:
- The creator of the trust (your name if it's your trust).
- The trustee, the person in charge of managing the trust (again, this is your name if it's your trust).
- The trustee who will take over managing the trust and distributing the property when the original trustee dies or becomes incapacitated. This is usually a spouse, close friend, or adult child.
- The beneficiaries - the people who will get the property of the trust (the same as in a will).
- The trustees who will manage any property left to young beneficiaries. Often times, when children or young adults inherit property from a trust, there is a delegated trustee to manage the property for them until they are of a mature and competent age to manage it themselves.
After you have drafted your trust with all of the pertinent information, sign it in front of a notary. Then, to make it effective, use a deed or standard transfer document to transfer the property of the trust into the trustee's name, per the trust's terms.
It's that simple. So, why not do it yourself? If you have a unique situation, need a special needs trust, or are overwhelmed by a complex or large estate, hiring a living trust lawyer can definitely help you sort out any questions or handle creating a complicated living trust. Before you jump to hiring a lawyer, however, do some research and educate yourself about trust basics. It can save you a lot of money, especially if you decide to move forward and create the trust yourself.