“Where can you find a reputable estate planning attorney in your area? The decision to hire an attorney for your legal representation is important. Advertising alone shouldn’t be the deciding factor.”
Asking the right questions is essential to choose an estate planning attorney who can help you and your family. You can use these tips to find the right trust attorney. Let’s know how to find the Best Trust Lawyer to Help You.
What is a trust lawyer?
Lawyers who specialize in trust law, we call trust lawyers. In estate planning, trusts act as tools. An individual who is the trust or settlor creates a trust relationship.
The trustees hold the trustor’s property on behalf of the beneficiaries subject to certain duties, such as to use and protect it for their benefit. Trustees may create trusts for personal or philanthropic reasons, such as providing financial support to surviving spouses or minor children.
Finding a lawyer who knows about specific issues
A trusts and estates attorney is usually more knowledgeable about specific issues. In other words, if you need an estate lawyer, you should search for one who specializes in your concern.
For example, you might want to hire an attorney to settle your mother’s estate if she died recently, and you want someone familiar with probating estates in the county where she lived.
A lawyer with lots of experience drafting trusts, ideally with a tax background, might be your best choice for planning an estate. (Probate rules vary from county to county.)
You may need to find someone with knowledge or expertise in many fields. The estate planner needs to know how your estate plan will impact the Medicaid eligibility of your spouse, for example, if you’re rewriting your will while your spouse is ill and receiving Medicaid benefits.
Unfortunately, some lawyers claim to be experts in trusts and estates but need to gain experience in this field. They may plug your information into a software program without knowing any details about the law or its possible effects on your estate if they offer to prepare your will or trust.
Therefore, if money is tight and you need an attorney at a moderate fee, you might consider hiring a smart, less experienced lawyer. A newer lawyer with little experience may very well develop into a great one.
Nevertheless, hiring a less experienced lawyer should also ensure they can consult a more experienced lawyer. Additionally, you may be able to plan your estate on your own.
Using an attorney to prepare simple wills, trusts, or powers of attorney is unnecessary. Making your documents or learning more about the documents your attorney will prepare for you with good self-help products is possible.
How to research trusts & estates lawyers
Finding the best trusts and estates attorney will need some research.
Search for an estate planning lawyer
To find a lawyer near you, search our attorney’s directory by location (city, state, zip code) or practice area if you still need to get a list of prospective attorneys.
Narrow your list down when you have a list of lawyers
The following guidelines can help you narrow your list down to three or four candidates when you have a list of lawyers:
- Visit the lawyers’ websites for biographical information. Is there any evidence that they have experience with trusts and estates? Are there any helpful resources on their website?
- Investigate prospective attorneys online. Use the lawyer’s name and the firm’s name to search. Do you find any articles, FAQs, or other information that fits your needs?
- People may know about the attorneys and have opinions about them.
- For information on the status of a lawyer, contact your state bar association or visit the association’s website.
- Choosing an estate planning lawyer certified in trusts and estates provides an extra assurance that they are competent, even if your state does not. Those with certifications may charge more than those without.
- Find out who is a member of local, state, or national associations. Is the lawyer listed in the directory? For instance, an Attorney Real Estate Group is one such organization.
- You can read reviews on Yelp if relevant.
- When you call a lawyer’s office, consider how the staff treats you because they reflect their practice. You should expect courteous and professional treatment from the staff and attorney.
- You will want to hire a lawyer with a local office unless there are special circumstances.
Talk to a few estate planning attorneys.
To determine which attorney is right for you, narrow your list to a few and do deeper research.
Talk with several lawyers.
Find out what their communication skills are like as well as their expertise. The ability of the attorney to represent you is important, but you should also trust your gut instinct about how well you ‘click’ with the attorney and how well they will meet your needs. Several estate planning lawyers in your area offer free consultations.
Check-in with references.
Consult clients and colleagues familiar with the lawyer’s skills and reputation. Contact each lawyer’s references if you want.
Ask who will do the work.
The lawyer you hire may delegate some of the work to their staff. Consider whether the attorney’s answer fits your expectations about how much work they will do.
Double-check promotional materials.
Get a brochure and promotional materials from the firm. Ensure that these materials check against other references and sources.
Understand the retainer agreement.
It is important to read the retainer agreement carefully and agree to it.
Consider any special needs you have.
Are you in need of an attorney who speaks a language other than English, for example? Is wheelchair accessibility a need? Are you more comfortable communicating by phone than by email?
If a lawyer is unavailable on short notice, don’t automatically drop them from your list. The lawyer cannot discuss the details of the matter over the phone. Often, a good lawyer can spend less time with prospective clients than they would like to. However, if your lawyer takes too long to meet with you, it may indicate that they are overworked.
Get information about the cost of the initial consultation. You may be able to waive this fee or apply it to your first hour of work with an attorney. According to our study, estate and trusts attorneys across the country report hourly rates and free consultation policies.)
Find out how the lawyer charges for services (by the hour or a flat rate), and get an estimate of the overall bill. Our survey results show how much attorneys charge for preparing estate planning documents. To make the most of your meeting with the lawyer, prepare beforehand.
Important reasons to have a trust attorney.
Trusts come in a variety of forms. You may consult a trust attorney to determine which trust is most suitable for your needs. Several types of trusts can be created, including:
- An inter vivos or living trust. The most common type of trust is this one. When the settlor is still alive, the trust takes effect. A revocable trust permits the settlor to add and remove property at any time during their lifetime;
- Testamentary trusts are another type of trust created through wills. After the creator of the trust dies, the trust becomes effective;
- Trusts for charitable purposes transfer and designate the assets or property of an individual to a charity or organization for that charity’s benefit. Charity trusts are usually less restrictive than other trusts, as they tend to be of public benefit;
- Discretionary trusts allow the trustee to determine when and how beneficiaries should receive trust assets and property;
- In a special needs trust, additional income is provided for individuals with disabilities while still allowing them to receive benefits from the government;
- In a spendthrift trust, the trust’s property is protected from the beneficiary’s debts or creditors while also providing for their needs.
- With a land trust, a trustee holds title to certain land or property, giving them the authority to manage the property and distribute its income.
Trusts can exist for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Asset Protection Trusts;
- Bypass (or AB) Trusts;
- Clifford (or Short-Term) Trusts;
- Crummey Trusts;
- Implied Trusts;
- Pooled Trusts;
- Secret (and Semi-Secret) Trusts; or
- Totten Trusts (Payable on Death Accounts).
Trusts may contain characteristics of multiple trusts. For the best solution depending on your situation, it is important to consider the reason for establishing trust and consult with your lawyer.
What information do we need to establish trust?
The settlor is generally the person who creates trust. At a specific point in time, usually upon the settlor’s death, beneficiaries will receive distributions from the trust. Trustees are fiduciaries who act similarly to executors in probate cases, as settlors designate them.
As trustees and successor trustees, it is the responsibility of trustees and successor trustees to ensure that trust assets are managed carefully, and distributions adhere according to the trust agreement to the beneficiaries.
There might be a need to accompany a trust with notarized deeds to real estate, assignment verification documents, and a list of the assets to be distributed under the trust, depending on the jurisdiction.
How much does a trust cost?
A trust offers peace of mind at a price and is more expensive than a will because trusts bypass the probate process and save money in the long run. Trusts cost, on average, $2,000.
It depends on the individual circumstances of the settlor, the assets in the trust, and the extent and qualifications of the beneficiaries that determine the cost of a trust.
It may also be more expensive to include power of attorney documents, living wills, or health care directives that we can prepare separately alongside a trust, allowing doctors and hospitals to know your preferences about medical options during incapacitation. Depending on your needs, a trust lawyer can assist you.
Issues that are related to trust law.
Trusts must satisfy several requirements to be valid. Among them are:
- Trusts must exist for the purpose intended by their creators;
- It is necessary to assign an individual to manage the trust for the beneficiary and transfer assets to him. There may be a court appointment if a specific individual has not turned up;
- In the trust, the beneficiaries must be specified;
- An illegal activity must not be involved in the trust’s purpose;
- Trust assets must include money or property. Without assets, a trust cannot exist.
A trust cannot transfer certain items. Some of these are:
- Policy on life insurance;
- A retirement account;
- Plans for pensions, etc.
- Accounts for health savings.
Trusts cannot handle these items since they belong to the beneficiary named in the individual policies. To place these items in a trust, the trustee must be the named beneficiary of the policies. You can consult your attorney if unsure of what property to place in a trust.
The trust document must properly name the beneficiary for them to qualify as a beneficiary. Many people lost their children, grandchildren, and spouses as beneficiaries.
Beneficiaries must be specific. So, their existence must be determinable when the trust begins. The beneficiary’s description must allow the court to identify them precisely. You can have your beneficiary names properly drafted by your attorney.
Benefits of hiring a trust law attorney for several reasons.
Hiring a trust law attorney in the USA is beneficial for several reasons. You can consult your trust attorney about the best type of trust for your estate based on its size and value.
Additionally, your attorney can explain any potential tax ramifications or legal formalities about the trust. You can also seek their advice on protecting your assets for the best interest of your beneficiaries.
The remaining lawyers on your list should take a look at each other using your common sense and instincts. Those who are not a good fit for you and are not confident they can assist you are not eligible. Choosing the right lawyer comes down to trusting your gut.