What is a Trusts Lawyer?
A trust is a financial agreement that takes assets out of an estate and places them under the control of a trustee. A trust lawyer specializes in helping clients plan and create trusts. They know all the relevant state probate, estate, and tax laws and the few federal requirements that apply to trusts and probate. They advise their clients, explain options, and strategize the creation of trusts to meet their clients’ goals.
What Do Trusts Lawyers Do?
Creating trusts is the main service that trust lawyers provide for their clients, but it is not the only one. They can do several things for you as you plan your estate and think about drafting a will and protecting or distributing your assets:
- Create a strategy for meeting a client’s goals for lowering estate taxes, avoiding probate, and more
- Explain the different types of trusts
- Provide guidance in assigning a trustee
- Draft a detailed will
- Draft documents for power of attorney, a living will, and medical directives
- Assist the trustee in managing a trust
- Ensure all documents and trust adhere to state laws
When Do I Need a Trusts Lawyer?
It is possible to set up a trust without a lawyer. If you do, make sure you know all the state laws that apply. It’s easy to make mistakes writing and legalizing a trust document that could put your estate at risk. To avoid these, work with a trusts lawyer, even for a simple trust. It is especially important to use a lawyer in more complicated situations, for instance, when:
- You want to put conditions in your trust for how and when assets get distributed to beneficiaries.
- Your estate is large enough that you will owe federal estate taxes, or you don’t understand if it applies to you.
- You don’t understand the difference between a trust and will and what to put in each.
- You want to create a specialized trust, such as a generation-skipping trust or a life insurance trust.
- You have a dependent or a beneficiary for the trust who has special needs.
- You don’t understand the process for moving assets to a trust or assigning a trustee.
The Benefits of Working with a Trust Lawyer
While it is not technically required to have a trust lawyer guiding you through this process, it’s a good idea. Trusts can be complicated. There are many different types, and state laws apply that you may not understand. Going it alone, you risk making mistakes that invalidate trusts and documents.
With a good lawyer representing your interests, you’ll get several benefits when creating trusts:
- A legal document and trust
If you make mistakes or don’t follow state laws, you may end up creating a will or a trust that is invalid. A lawyer can ensure you don’t fall into those traps and that you have a valid, legal plan.
- Get neutral advice
Working on estate plans can be emotional. Family relationships, even when good, can interfere with smart choices. A trust lawyer provides expert advice that is also neutral and separate from the emotions that can run high in families.
- Get the right type of trust
A trust is not a one-size-fits-all product. Many different types serve various purposes. A lawyer will explain them all to you, ensuring you select the right trust for your needs and goals.
- Reduce taxes
Acting on your own, you may not understand how to strategize to minimize estate taxes. Your lawyer can give you the best plan to save your family and beneficiaries money in the future.
- Handle complicating factors
You may not even realize there are complexities in your estate planning until speaking to a lawyer. A professional can find all the potential issues and quickly handle any that arise.
- Protect dependents
If you are creating trusts to plan for the futures of your dependent children or someone with special needs, it’s essential to take the process seriously. Mistakes could put their futures at risk. A lawyer will ensure they have assets after you die.
Choosing a Trusts Lawyer
A lawyer who will help you establish trusts should specialize in this area of the law, most of the time or exclusively. Ask around with friends or any financial planners or lawyers you trust to get a referral. Interview several lawyers before choosing so you can ask relevant questions:
- How long have you been working on trusts?
- Do you only work on trusts, or can you help with other aspects of estate planning?
- Do you help with all parts of the process, from strategizing to creating and executing a trust?
- Can you review trusts periodically?
- Do you see any major issues with my estate or plans for a trust?
- How long will this project take?
- What are your fees?
- Do you charge by the hour or by the project?
Choose a lawyer you feel comfortable working with and sharing personal information. They should make you feel confident about their experience and expertise with respect to creating a good plan to meet your goals. They should be easy to contact and in regular communication, always willing to answer your questions.
When you have chosen a lawyer, your work is not yet done. You need to provide them with a lot of personal information, documents, and your goals so they can set up trusts that meet your needs. It’s also important that you ask a lot of questions. The more you know about the process, the better your choices will be.
Hire a trusts lawyer to help you with this process, and you can get through it with fewer worries. Trusts and probate can be overwhelming and emotional. You need this third-party professional to act as a guide and advocate.