Do I Need an Attorney for My Living Trust?

Do I Need an Attorney for My Living Trust?

A living trust is an estate planning document created during one’s lifetime. A revocable living trust goes into effect during one’s lifetime and provides a way to manage one’s assets during his/her lifetime and to dispose of assets after they pass away. There are many reasons a living trust is preferable to a last will and testament.

For example, when you create a living trust, you can avoid the time and expense associated with probate. While the estate’s assets are in probate, they may be frozen – a living trust avoids this as well.

Individuals also choose to make a living trust to minimize tax consequences and for privacy concerns. You may learn more about the benefits of a living trust over a last will and testament by reading this article.

Basics Of A Living Trust

A revocable living trust includes the following:

  • The name of maker of the trust (known as the grantor, settler and/or trustor);
  • The name of the individual responsible for managing the trust and its assets  (the trustee – this is typically yourself);
  • The name of the individual who will take over the responsibility of managing the trust after you pass away (the successor trustee);
  • The names of the individuals or organizations you leave your trust property to (the beneficiaries);
  • The name of the individual in charge of managing the assets you leave to minor beneficiaries (also called the trustee).

Do I Need An Attorney

As long as your living trust contains these basic elements, you can make your own living trust. Some choose to hire a lawyer, and more specifically, an estate planning attorney to prepare their estate planning documents, but this is not always necessary. Many individuals are successful in making a living trust on their own without the use of a living trust attorney.

If you are interested in making your own living trust, be sure to sign the trust document you created before a notary public and look up the law in your state as to whether additional witnesses are required. You will then need to fund the trust by transferring your assets into the trust. Some states require real estate deed transfer documents to be prepared by an attorney so be sure to check with your local land records office for this as well.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Hiring An Estate Planning Lawyer

Individuals with complex estate planning needs should consider hiring an attorney to prepare their living trust. You may consider hiring an living trust lawyer if you’ve a complex estate plan. For example if your plan includes:

  • generation skipping
  • conditions to beneficiaries,
  • beneficiaries with special needs or receiving government assistance,
  • high dollar life insurance policies, and
  • assistance with trust funding (which is the transferring of your assets to the trust)

One of the most significant drawbacks to hiring an attorney is the cost of retaining an estate planning attorney or firm to prepare your living trust.

If you are interested in creating a living trust, a great first step is to do a little research to familiarize yourself with the basics and determine whether you are able to prepare your estate planning documents on your own or if you would benefit from hiring an attorney.

If you're ready to create a living trust, LegalZoom can help. With a LegalZoom living trust, you will receive a personalized legal document specific to your needs, a pour-over will, transfer deeds, document organizer, and more. For a small additional fee, you can order an estate planning bundle which includes a living trust, power of attorney, living will (advance directive), and one year of attorney advice. The estate planning bundle offers exceptional value, helping you protect your family and estate at an affordable cost. 



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