We don’t like to think about what will happen after we’re gone, but if you’re leaving loved ones behind, that’s not a question you can afford to ignore.
For many people, the answer comes in the form of a living trust form—if they know how to set one up properly.
This is where a trust attorney comes in. Attorneys know that most people have more complicated estates than they realize, and they can help ensure that those estates are handled according to your wishes, no matter how extensive or complicated the estate may be.
Here’s what a trust attorney can do for you, when you need to hire one, and why it may be the best decision you could make for your family’s future.
What Does a Trust Attorney Do?
A trust attorney, more commonly referred to as an estate planning attorney, is an attorney who will set up a trust on your behalf.
There are several different types of trusts, but all trusts boil down to the same thing: an account managed by a person or organization for the benefit of a third party.
The two most common types of trust are living trusts and testamentary trusts. Living trusts are created while the grantor (you) is still alive through the transfer of property to a trustee. The trust is in the grantor’s control, but once the grantor dies, the trust becomes irrevocable and can no longer be changed.
Testamentary trusts, or trusts under will, are trusts created by a will after the grantor dies to preserve assets for children from a previous marriage, ensuring the financial security of a surviving spouse, taking care of beneficiaries with special needs, or giving to charity.
A trust attorney helps guide you through the process of setting up, maintaining, and executing a trust, among other estate planning functions.
What to Expect When Hiring a Trust Attorney
A trust attorney is basically your personal guide through the financial planning process. Their role is to walk you through the laws in your state, assess your goals, and help establish a trust that acts as the perfect balance between the law and your personal needs.
A trust attorney knows the ins and outs of estate planning. When you go to a trust attorney, they’ll take the time to understand your financial goals and help you understand your options.
From there, they can help set up a trust that is legally binding and meets your desired goals. But their job isn’t done when the trust is set up–they’ll also help you manage the trust as time goes on so that the trust is as effective as possible.
Why You Should Hire an Attorney
There are plenty of good reasons to hire an attorney, but they all come down to the same thing: peace of mind.
Planning for your loved ones when you’re not there to take care of them is an incredibly stressful process. An estate lawyer can help take a load off your mind and ensure that your estate is executed according to your wishes.
Here are a few other reasons why it’s a good idea to get an attorney on the phone.
Making Sure the Trust is Valid
First and foremost, a trust attorney can help ensure that a trust is legally valid and binding.
That sounds like a given, but the reality is that estate planning is a complicated process–creating a legally binding document isn’t necessarily as straightforward as it sounds.
Every state has its own unique estate planning laws. For example, certain assets are not allowed in living trusts, and the inclusion of an ineligible asset can render the whole trust worthless.
In addition, your location may affect who can serve as a witness, who can be a personal representative, and where and how the trust must be signed. Never mind the wide array of estate planning procedures that vary between states.
A trust attorney is versed in the laws of your area and can ensure that your trust is legally valid. And if the laws change, they can help make adjustments to keep the trust active.
Do you have a complicated estate?
Most people answer no. Here’s the problem: most people are wrong.
If you have no debts, limited assets, and streamlined finances, then maybe your estate is simple. However, any of the following can throw a wrench in your estate:
- Multiple marriages
- The recent loss of a spouse or family member
- Multiple children
- Problem children
- Minor children
- No children
- Business ownership
- Real estate (especially in multiple states)
- Substantial investment assets
- Disabled loved ones
- Bequests to charity
- Taxable estate
Chances are, any one of the following might apply to you. And even if you don’t think your estate is that complicated, your lawyer may think otherwise. There’s no good reason to throw your estate into turmoil if it can be avoided.
Protecting Your Loved Ones
Do you know what happens if you’re in breach of trust?
In breach of trust cases, the defendant was in legal possession of the victim’s property, the defendant converted that property for their own use, and took possession of that property without intending to give it back to the victim.
You see, trusts are administered by trustees, who manage the trust for the benefit of a third party. They handle the assets in the trust, but the assets are not the trustee’s property. The trustee’s job is to act for the benefit of the grantor and the beneficiaries.
Here’s the problem: you have to, well, trust your trustee.
A trust attorney can help ensure that your trust is executed according to your wishes, whether they’re the trustee or not. This is especially helpful if your trust is unusually complicated or it’s being administered on behalf of minors or disabled adult children.
Your attorney’s job is simple: protecting your wishes and your trust. And that means that your loved ones will also be protected and see the benefits of the trust you created.
Don’t Put Off Planning for the Future
If you’re thinking of hiring a trust attorney, you need to ask yourself one question: what is your family’s future worth to you?
If the answer is quite a lot, it’s time to work with a trust attorney. When you’re gone, your family will already have a significant burden. This is just one of the ways you can help the healing process.
And if you need more great legal advice, make sure to check out our blog.