Do You Need an Attorney for a Living Trust?

Most people will usually want to avoid hiring an attorney unless it is absolutely necessary. After all, legal services can be quite expensive. This is why one of the biggest questions regarding living trusts is whether you need an attorney to create one. A living trust is a popular estate planning option that avoids probate and estate taxes. However, they can be complicated. This guide explains when it is possible to create a trust without an attorney, and the benefits of working with a lawyer.

When You Can Do it Yourself

Although it is very rarely advisable, it is possible for simple living trusts to be set up without an attorney. However, even in these situations, you cannot do the whole thing on your own. First, however, consider how complicated your trust is. All but the very simplest trusts should always have an estate planning attorney involved. If any of these things is true for what you want for your trust, you should be sure to speak with an attorney:

  • Putting conditions on your belongings
  • Skipping a generation
  • Insurance policies
  • Beneficiaries receiving government assistance

If you think your trust is simple enough not to need an attorney, the next step is to research what the specific requirements are for your state. Each state has different laws surrounding the creation of a trust. A real estate deed transfer may be necessary and some states also require witnesses to sign the trust. No matter what state you live in, you will need a notary to be present for its creation. Finally, some states actually do require an attorney to prepare some of the documents.

If at any point throughout the process of creating your living trust or researching the requirements you begin to feel overwhelmed or confused, you should immediately visit an estate planning attorney. It is a complicated process and there is no shame in needing a little help.

Additionally, if you do not create the trust correctly, you may face unfortunate consequences. Sometimes, an improperly prepared trust simply results in the trust being invalid. However, other times it may result in a fee. Even worse, you may accidentally create a valid trust that does not function how you want it to, resulting in your possessions being lost or transferred to the wrong person. The safest thing for you to do is to rely on the professional expertise of an estate planning attorney to prepare your living trust for you.