Is an Attorney Needed to Form a Living Trust?

Forming a living trust for your estate is an excellent solution to avoid probate, protect your assets, and allow your family to escape many legal fees and time in court. Granted, this type of vehicle does not fully take away the need for some sort of will – for example, a living trust usually isn’t able to name a guardian for a child.

But, this type of estate planning allows for some much more efficient ways of transferring your property to other family members, away from the public records. Setting up your living trust correctly is very important, to ensure it is accepted as legal, especially after you pass.

Attorney or Do-It-Yourself

There are many do-it-yourself options on the market for setting up your own revocable living trust, from books to software programs. Be aware though, that you get what you pay for. Many of these forms are very generic, and while it may provide you with a legally binding document, it is likely setup in the most general way and will not offer the estate planning that will give you and your family the most benefits for your unique situation. Since most average people do not have enough knowledge of legal terminology, it might require a lot of time and effort on your part to go through each section of the document and understand it thoroughly enough to be sure you’re doing the right thing.

If your estate is fairly simple, you might be able to start with one of these options, but it is always recommended to have an estate planning lawyer review it, as there are many random, but important, details that you may not think about in the process that could end up costing your heirs a lot more than you think. Not only that, keep an eye out for the common disclaimer on many of these do-it-yourself programs that state that, “This program is not legal advice and is not a substitute for legal advice.”

State Laws

Software programs and books may not be fully updated with the most current laws, and not only that, they may not be setup correctly for the laws of the state you live in. Trust laws can vary greatly between states, including details such as:

  • Estate taxes
  • Gift taxes
  • Inheritance laws
  • Definitions of important terms within your living trust, including descendants, community property laws, common law marriage, putative spouses, and homestead rights

Plan Your Estate

While it might be tempting to start planning your estate yourself, it is always recommended that you consult with a qualified estate planning lawyer in Arlington Heights, IL. This will help ensure your living trust is setup correctly and give you peace of mind that you or your family members won’t have any unexpected problems in the future.

Thanks to Bott & Associates, Ltd. for their insight into estate planning and the benefits of having an attorney when creating a living trust.