I’m sure you’ve seen the flyers and ads:   FREE LIVING TRUST SEMINAR:

Wait for it……AVOID THE COST AND DELAYS OF PROBATE!   ooohhh….that sounds ominous, doesn’t it? 

Estate planning doesn’t have to be costly, but setting up a Trust, and maintaining it, can be.   The relative cost of meeting with an experienced attorney, understanding how assets pass to your heirs, and preparing a few documents such as a Will, Living Will/Designation of Health Care Agent, and Power of Attorney is a small fraction of what it costs to set up and maintian a Trust.

Once you do the Will, Living Will/Designation of Health Care Agent, and Power of Attorney, it’s likely that you won’t be making changes to them for many years, if at all.    But when you do a Trust, you have to make sure that ALL of your assets are put into the name of the Trust.  Then as time goes on, if you’ve acquired new assets like a house, car or boat, or set up a new bank account or investment account, or any other asset, you’ll need to update the Trust.  This will require an annual “check-up” with your attorney if you’re going to do it right.    But the truth is, many people don’t.  They forget about the Trust or get tired of the annual “check-up” with the attorney.    When this happens, the entire concept of “avoiding Probate”, is lost, and the delay in updating the maintenance of the Trust can take as much time as settling an estate in Probate.      

And let’s talk about Probate.   If you do it right, most of your assets won’t need to be “probated” anyway.   Only the solely owned assets are probated.   Many times, advanced distributions of a portion of an inheritance can be made while the estate is being settled.  Most estates can be settled within 6 or 7 months if you have an experienced attorney who works diligently and efficiently.    Probate is an orderly process that has stood the test of time, and it’s designed to carry out your intentions and to protect your heirs.

The bottom line is, an attorney would obviously rather “sell” you on a trust for several thousand dollars, as opposed to a few hundred dollars for some good and quality advice.   Some people absolutely should have a Trust.  For most, it’s not necessary.   But for all, meeting with an attorney and understanding the Estate Planning process is very important.