If you’ve decided that a revocable trust is the right choice for you, it may be time to start hunting for a financial or legal professional who can create it and walk you through the process. If you are still trying to figure out whether it’s a will or a trust that you need, try going here for an article about the difference between those two estate planning tools.
Affordable Options for Trusts
A quick Google search for ‘affordable trusts’ will bring up many options, ranging anywhere from $99 to upwards of $500. These are typically online “trust builders” that do not include in-person conferences. There should also be a customer service number that you can call at any time in the process if you have a question.
Regardless of what you consider to be “affordable,” an internet search might be a good place to start. Don’t forget the same details you would consider with any purchase: What exactly am I getting for the cost? Some online trust services may supply you with the document, but that’s only the first step. Funding a trust is the next step, and that’s a little bit more complicated. So if you see a $99 trust offer, you definitely want to check out the fine print regarding what help it includes when it comes to the funding process.
If you’ve done a Google search and have bookmarked the ones that are 1) in your price range and 2) are professionally displayed (full disclosure of the company, location, details, etc.), the next step is what I call “before Google.” What did you do before the internet and its millions of suggestions for just about anything under the sun? You asked around. Inquire with trusted friends and family members to see what they’ve done. Ask people with similar jobs as you, who might be in about the same income bracket. More complicated estates with greater holdings in real estate require a little more finessing than estates with minimal assets or debt.
Comparing Trust Packages: State by State
Just like comparing the price tags and features of cars on different car lots, trust packages can vary widely. Some states are better than others when it comes to creating a trust due to statutory tax codes. For example, states that are considered the best to create a trust in currently are Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, and Nevada. A few states are also working at joining that “best trust states” list. Then, compare the actual entities that you are considering: A financial planner, estate lawyer, or online trust builder should have all steps clarified, in order, and list exactly what you will get for the fee your are paying. Note: Typically, trusts are created in the state where the trustee resides (the person you have named to be in charge of your estate after you die), but it is not a requirement. Again, state tax codes have a lot to do with how funds are disbursed (and taxed) so do your research. California is a state where taxes are relatively high; if you are creating a trust in California you may want to consult a professional who can guide you through the process.
Finally, choose the professional who is right for the job and that is the most affordable. Estate attorneys are typically significantly more pricey than fee-only financial planners. But first and foremost, figure out the right professional for your revocable trust and then compare within that sub-group. The ultimate goal is to have a trust that works for you and your heirs, which means it needs to be done right.