So, you’ve been hearing about revocable living trusts. The idea sounds good, you think you might need one, yourself, and a little bit of Googling has given you the idea that whipping one up falls in the same category as fixing the kitchen sink (i.e. you can do it on your own). Well, we don’t want to insult your DIY skills, but the truth is you shouldn’t. Drafting your own trust is nothing like doing your own plumbing—and not because plumbing is easy, but because when you mess it up, the consequences aren’t just messy, they’re catastrophic. This article explains why.

How Living Trusts Work

A living trust is simply a map or rule book on what to do with existing assets after one passes. Laying out carefully, each direction to be carried out with exact precision so that they may reach the treasure! Assets are no longer as simple as gold coins, and so modern treasure maps require modern features that account for modern complexities.

Living trusts also come with terms. When you set one up, you detail the conditions under which the assets contained can be passed on. A child, for instance, might only be able to access the funds after reaching a certain age, completing an educational milestone, or kicking a bad habit.

When you die, you obviously won’t be around to enforce the trust terms, and so naming a “trustee” is another important part of the process. This person carries a legal obligation to follow the instructions you provide and ensure your assets are managed as you intend.

Living trusts are versatile tools that have a bunch of other benefits and features but getting into them here is too much. An experienced estate planning attorney is the person to go to for more information.


Why Drafting Your Own Trusts is a Bad Idea

Trusts are powerful legal tools, and so it makes sense that strict laws exist related to how they need to be set up. These laws vary widely by state and change frequently, and so it’s pretty easy for a non-expert to get them wrong.

The variable nature of estate planning legislation explains why virtually every DIY service includes a disclaimer that says something like, “The information contained in this book, website, or program is not legal advice and is not a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, consult with an attorney.” Ironically, DIY services, themselves, tell you not to do it yourself and, well, there’s a reason for that.

If this weren’t argument enough, the other reason to avoid taking an “I can do it” attitude to drafting a trust is that it won’t actually save you money. Legal documents require legal oversight to be put into action and if they are drafted incorrectly, legal costs start piling up that make any money you may have initially saved, disappear quickly. This can cause additional stress for the family, which is what you are trying to avoid by building a trust in the first place. Again, a comparison with plumbing is apt: if you try to fix your own pipes and end up flooding the basement, you’ve done yourself a big disservice, and cost yourself money and stress. The same is true of drafting your own trust, except here we’re not talking about your basement, we’re talking about your life’s work and family angst.

To learn more about the importance of working with an experienced estate planning attorney when setting up a revocable living trust, do not hesitate to reach out to the Estate Planning Law Group of Georgia today.