We don’t like to think about what will happen after we’re gone, but if you’re leaving loved ones behind, you can’t afford to ignore the question.
For many people, the answer is a living trust form—if they know how to set one up correctly.
This is where a trusts lawyer can help. Attorneys understand that most people have more complicated estates than they realize, and they can help ensure that those estates are handled according to your wishes, regardless of how large or complicated the estate is. Here’s what a trusts attorney can do for you in your living trust, when you might need one, and why it might be the best decision you’ve ever made for your family’s future.
What is a Trusts Attorney?
A trusts attorney is a lawyer who establishes trust on someone else’s behalf. A trust is a legal vehicle for the transfer of property and other assets. For example, you may wish to establish trust in order to leave possessions and assets to loved ones. A trust can assist your loved ones in avoiding the probate process. A trusts lawyer will assist you in establishing trust and filing all necessary paperwork to put the trust in place.
A trusts attorney can also provide relevant legal advice to the trustee, who is the person designated by an individual to manage a trust. You could even appoint a lawyer as your trustee to assist you in managing a large and complex estate or to ensure your trustee remains an impartial third party.
Role of Trusts Attorney?
Trusts attorney will create a trust on your behalf. A trust attorney can provide relevant legal assistance to whoever you appoint as your trustee, the person in charge of managing the trust. You can even appoint a lawyer as trustee. This is useful if your estate is large and complicated, or if you want to ensure that your trustee is an unbiased third party.
The disadvantage of trusts is that they can be costly and difficult documents to draft and ensure their validity. While you can create your own trust, a trust attorney will go beyond the basics and delve deeper into your specific situation to help you begin thinking about how you want your estate divided, who you want to receive it, and when you want it distributed. If you have special needs children, whether they are young or adults, trust terms that protect and provide for them will be discussed. Discussions may also centre on how to keep control of your wealth and protect your legacy from creditors or beneficiaries who may misappropriate their inheritance.
Trusts attorney can also assist you in understanding the various types of trusts. Aside from revocable and irrevocable trusts, other documents to consider include credit shelter trusts, charitable remainder trusts, generation-skipping trusts, and many others.
#1. The Appointment of a Professional Fiduciary
If you do not have anyone in your life whom you feel comfortable naming as a trustee of your trust, you can appoint a professional fiduciary to handle the details of trust management while you are alive and incapacitated, as well as the distribution of your assets after your death.
Because of the size of the job, the legal complexities, and the desire to avoid family conflicts, many people prefer to delegate this large responsibility to a professional rather than a family member or trusted friend.
#2. Administration of Trust
Trusts attorney can help a fiduciary, whether an individual or a professional, handle the entire scope of trust administration after your death, including:
Notifying all beneficiaries, as well as government agencies and other organizations, of the individual’s death. This includes the Social Security Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, life/health insurance companies, mortgage companies, banks, credit card companies, and so on.
Management of the entire trust estate, including property value assessments, reconciling all outstanding debts/bills, reporting gains and losses, filing taxes, and so on.
- All assets are distributed to the beneficiaries.
- Compliance with all state and federal trust laws
- Litigation responsibilities if the trust is challenged
How Do I Determine Whether I Need Trusts Attorney?
It’s a good idea to have a trust created or reviewed by a trust attorney if you’re creating one. Here are some reasons why you might want to establish trust:
- You do not want your family to go through the probate process.
- You’re attempting to reduce your estate taxes.
- You are not required to name a guardian for a minor or to specify your last wishes (for these, you need to create a will)
- You want to control when your heirs receive their inheritance.
What Do Trusts Attorneys Charge?
The fee for a trust attorney is determined by the service provided. Your attorney may charge an hourly rate or a flat fee to simply create or review a trust. A trust attorney typically charges by the hour to act as a trustee. Rates will vary depending on where you live, so make sure to agree on a fee with your attorney ahead of time.
What to Expect If You Hire a Trusts Attorney
A trust attorney serves as your personal guide during the financial planning process. Their role is to walk you through the laws in your state, assess your goals, and assist you in establishing trust that serves as the perfect balance between the law and your personal needs.
A trust attorney is well-versed in estate planning. When you visit a trust attorney, they will take the time to understand your financial goals and explain your options to you.
They can then assist you in establishing a legally binding trust that meets your objectives. However, their trust does not end once the trust is established; they will also assist you in managing the trust overtime to ensure that it is as effective as possible.
Why Should You Hire an Attorney?
There are numerous compelling reasons to hire an attorney, but they all boil down to one thing: peace of mind.
Planning for your loved ones when you can’t be there to care for them is a very stressful process. An estate lawyer can take some of the burdens off your shoulders by ensuring that your estate is carried out according to your wishes.
Here are a few more reasons why calling an attorney is a good idea.
#1. Making Certain That the Trust Is Valid
To begin with, a trusts attorney can assist in ensuring that the trust is legally valid and binding.
That may seem obvious, but the reality is that estate planning is a complicated process–creating a legally binding document isn’t always as simple as it sounds.
Each state has its own estate planning laws. Certain assets, for example, are not permitted in living trusts, and the inclusion of an ineligible asset can render the entire trust worthless.
Furthermore, where you live may have an impact on who can serve as a witness, who can be a personal representative, and where and how the trust must be signed. Never mind the plethora of estate planning procedures that differ from state to state.
A trust attorney is familiar with local laws and can ensure that your trust is legally valid. And, if the laws change, they can assist in making changes to keep the trust active.
#2. Managing Complications
Do you have a large estate?
The majority of people say no. The issue is that the vast majority of people are incorrect.
If you have no debts, few assets, and a well-organized financial situation, your estate may be simple. However, any of the following can cause a snag in your estate planning:
- Several marriages
- The untimely death of a spouse or family member
- Several children
- Children who cause problems
- Children who are minors
- There are no children.
- Owning a business
- Estate investment (especially in multiple states)
- Significant investment assets
- Family members who are disabled
- Charitable bequests
- An estate that is taxable
Any of the following scenarios could apply to you. Even if you don’t believe your estate is that complicated, your lawyer may disagree. There’s no reason to cause havoc in your estate if it can be avoided.
#3. Keeping Your Loved Ones Safe
Do you know what happens if you violate someone’s trust?
In breach of trust cases, the defendant was in legal possession of the victim’s property, converted it for their own use, and took possession of it without intending to return it to the victim.
Trusts, you see, are managed by trustees who work for the benefit of a third party. They manage the trust’s assets, but the assets are not the trustee’s property. The trustee’s role is to act in the best interests of both the grantor and the beneficiaries.
The issue is that you must, well, trust your trustee.
Whether they are the trustee or not, a trusts attorney can help ensure that your trust is carried out according to your wishes. This is especially useful if your trust is unusually complex or if it is being administered on behalf of minors or disabled adult children.
Your attorney’s job is straightforward: to protect your wishes and your trust. That means your loved ones will be safe and will reap the benefits of the trust you have established.
Trust Attorney and Living Trusts
Many people use living trusts to distribute assets to beneficiaries after they die. The living trust is the legal entity that owns the property that you transfer to it while you are still alive. It is often preferable to work with a trusts attorney to draft the living trust document in order to ensure that the trust is created in accordance with your wishes.
The following are some examples of situations in which you will benefit from working with a trusts attorney to create a living trust:
#1. When there are conditions in the trust:
Many grantors choose to include conditions in the trust. When and how assets are distributed can be influenced by external factors. You can, for example, include a requirement that each beneficiary inherits portions of the trust at a certain age, or that a child or grandchild obtain a college degree before receiving the inheritance.
#2. When you will have to pay estate taxes:
If your estate exceeds the federal estate tax exemption, you will have to pay estate taxes. Estate taxes are also common in many states. A trusts lawyer can assist you in reviewing your options and reducing the taxes your estate will owe.
#3. When you are unsure about what to include in trust and what to include in a will:
Trust will have various advantages and disadvantages. Many people are unsure if they have the correct document for their situation. A trusts lawyer can explain your options and assist you in deciding how to proceed.
#4. When you want to skip generations:
If you intend to leave assets to grandchildren or other relatives who are a certain number of years younger than you, this is known as generation-skipping. Depending on the amount you want to transfer, you may be subject to the GSTT, or Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax. Working with a trust’s lawyer can help you avoid or reduce the imposition of this high tax while still transferring your assets in accordance with your wishes.
#5. When you have a large amount of life insurance:
Because life insurance is subject to estate tax, you may need the assistance of a trusts lawyer to set up a special trust that protects your assets from tax.
When a beneficiary has special needs or receives government assistance, specific types of trusts are available to address these issues. A family trusts attorney can advise you on the best type of trust to use.
#6. When you need assistance transferring assets:
Many people are unaware of how to legally transfer assets into a trust. A trusts lawyer can ensure that your assets are properly transferred so that the trust can take effect.
When you plan how to pass property and assets to your loved ones, you may have to make some difficult decisions about your possessions. When you work with an experienced trusts lawyer, you can ensure that you create a legal agreement that satisfies your wishes while also protecting your assets and beneficiaries.