The Age of COVID Estate Plans – Cheap Trusts are in fact Very Expensive
Estate planning services are highly sought after in this “Age of COVID.” Unfortunately, the higher cost of a custom-drafted, sophisticated and thorough estate plan containing all the essential legal documents, as well as guidance in properly “funding” the trust, could be perceived as a deterrent to utilizing professional services. Instead, folks are tempted by trust mills, or worse – trusts downloaded from the internet, that may or may not even be governed under CA law, and that do not reflect the dynamic of the trust-creator and his/her beneficiaries.
The adage “you get what you pay for” can’t be more true when it comes to estate planning. Penny-wise and dollar-foolish is the outcome of a poorly drafted will or trust, because upon death, the legal fees in post-death administration will far outweigh the cost of setting up a well-drafted estate plan..
Regretfully, sometimes I hear folks say, “when I’m dead, what do I care.” The entire premise of estate planning is that it is done out of consideration and caring for those left behind to “pick up the pieces” when one is dead. It is more burdensome on the family and much more expensive to leave a badly drafted or unfunded trust, than to spend a reasonable amount of money and get it done right in the first place.
Such “self-drafted,” half-baked estate plans will surely go down as “COVID Estate Plans” and will be a synonym for poor planning that will end up in litigation or in probate, costing the families thousands upon thousands of dollars to “unravel” and “fix” post-death.
If you love your family, don’t put them through this. Hire a professional to walk you through the different types of trusts, and assist you with correctly funding your living trust to ensure probate is avoided at all costs. Don’t become a “COVID Estate Plan” Statistic.
“I only need a simple trust”
Beware of cheap trusts – unless you are an estate planning attorney, you are simply not qualified to tell the difference between a well-written trust, and a badly written one. You would have to rely on a good referral to retain the services of a well-trained legal professional who has experience in both estate planning AND in post-death administration (i.e., the field of “implementing” the terms of a trust when the trust creator dies).
“I only need a simple trust” is not a judgment call one can make without possessing knowledge of the multitude of factors (beyond the extent of your assets) that call for a “simple” or a more complicated trust. Working with a trust and estate attorney who is versed in post-death administration and probate will put the focus on thorough, defensive planning and litigation prevention. Proper estate planning is an investment that is well worth the time and expense, rather than “going cheap” and shopping for the “lowest bidder.” Buyer beware…