Once you have come to the realization you need a living trust, you have several ways to obtain it:
- Do It Yourself
- Online service
- Using an attorney
The differences between the approaches vary by the following factors:
- Learning time
- How comprehensive is the plan
- How effective is the plan when a death or incapacity event actually occurs
Do It Yourself
If you are familiar with Estate Law and feel you can draft a Living Trust document yourself, this is probably the least expensive way to create it.
You will need, though, to get yourself familiarized with the recent laws and case laws that involve your specific situation.
And as much as the upfront costs are minimal, your heirs may pay a high price if the documents were not drafted and/or executed properly.
An Online Service
As an alternative to the DIY method where you fill in pre-printed forms, an online service can do a similar job.
Since each person’s situation is different and may require special attention, it could be that the online service will produce a living trust document which will not cover all cases.
While seem benign, the true value of the living trust comes into play only at times of death or incapacitation.
So while it incur a modest fee, a non-comprehensive document might fall short to deliver what you intended it to do.
Using an Attorney
Let us first address the “elephant in the room”: cost.
Yes, drafting a living trust using an attorney will probably cost you more on the front end than the DIY or the online service options.
However, when you consider why you wanted a living trust in the first place – to save on the enormous cost and time that are associated with Probate, you may find that the cost your heirs pay if the documents are poorly made are far greater than the upfront cost of an experienced attorney who can avoid Probate with a well-drafted, comprehensive living trust.
An attorney will also interview you and your family and could expose little things you haven’t thought about yourself, that might greatly influence how your living trust is executed and followed.
At the very least you should consider talking to an experience Estate attorney and find out costs, if your situation even calls for having a living trust, and then decide what is your best option.