It seems that the popular trend in Estate Planning is favoring Living Trusts. People think that such Trusts provide tax planning (they do) and avoid probate (they do if properly administered). However, Trusts are not a be-all end-all in Estate Planning.
The common pitch that attorneys use to sell Trusts is that a Trust can avoid the expense of probate. In many places, probate attorneys charge a percentage of the estate as their fees. That can be very expensive. In Curry County, that is not necessarily so.
We charge our probate services by the hour. This is usually vastly less expensive than a probate where attorney fees are charged as a percentage of an estate. Should you encounter an attorney who is charging by a percentage of the estate, we suggest you exit the building immediately and find an attorney who does not charge that way.
Tax planning can be done either in a Will or in a Living Trust. In fact, the documents share almost identical tax planning language in most cases. However, a Will should cost somewhere between $250.00 and $1000.00. Generally, Living Trusts are much more expensive.
Living Trusts can be complicated for people to understand and administer. Many times, older folks do not understand the complexities of a Living Trust and the Living Trust is rendered partially or totally ineffective. And, the older a person gets, the more they want to do away with complexities. In that event, a Will can be preferable to a Living Trust.
In a probate, a judge can solve questions in 30 days or less. To get help with a Living Trust may require a full-fledged lawsuit. We like it when we have a judge to supervise a probate.
Our Law Firm does Living Trusts on a regular basis. Some people want them, because of the common preference and the modern trend in other states. The most common reason people choose a Living Trust is to avoid probate fees. However, in Curry County you can find several attorneys who charge for probate administration services by the hour instead.
We do recommend the use of a Living Trust if you own real property in other states, if you do not want certain people to have notice of a probate, or if you will have difficulty locating blood relatives. We do not believe that a person should pay a lot of money for a Living Trust, simply because that is the popular thing to do these days. In most cases a Will does what is needed and an expensive Living Trust is not necessary. We can help you decide which is best for you.