In a challenging economy we are often tempted to “DIY” (do it yourself). So, is it possible to write your own Living Trust? Yes, but you should know the disadvantages to a poorly drafted Living Trust before you begin.
There are three positions in the creation of a Revocable Living Trust Agreement: the Trustors, the Trustees and the Beneficiaries. After completing the trust agreement, it is vital that you fund all assets into the name of the Trust. If you fail to set up and fund the trust properly, you risk at least two unhappy consequences: disinheritance and probate.
The same cautions apply when choosing and changing a trustee. These are the people who will be managing the assets of the trust.
When you hire an attorney, he or she can help you properly fund your Trust, make sure you have not left out an heir and ensure that your trust agreement meets current estate law. If your document is not properly drafted, probate may be needed for your entire estate. If you have not removed deceased beneficiaries, a court may have to determine who your beneficiaries should be. Further, if you have not properly funded your assets into your Trust, the only way to do so is through the probate process.
Your attorney can also help you create a Pour Over Will. This Will may assist if you leave any asset out of your Trust. A Pour Over Will is a safety net to transfer your assets into your Trust typically through a short version of probate.
If you create your own Trust, you will also be responsible for your own Will. If you leave property out of your Trust and you don’t properly create a Pour Over Will, a prolonged probate will be needed to determine the rightful heirs-at-law.
When you “do it yourself” to repair a leaky pipe, it may just require a plumber to do it right, if your repair fails. Writing your own living trust is a complicated process that could be many times more expensive and time consuming when it is not done right. This is no time to DIY.