If you’re thinking about creating a living trust but haven’t made up your mind yet, your decision is probably resting on an important question: “What is this going to cost me?” After all, if working with an estate planning lawyer to establish a trust was free, almost everyone would do it. 

This question is a good one since it’s always smart to consider the cost of any estate planning solution in addition to the financial value and peace of mind it creates. In this article, we’ll help you decide whether a living trust is the right option for you by giving you some information about the costs and benefits of working with an experienced estate planning attorney in West Michigan to create a living trust. 

Trusts Cost More Than Wills — At First 

Since every person’s estate planning needs are unique, it’s difficult to estimate exactly how much it will cost to create a living trust for you without knowing anything about your circumstances. 

In general, though, it almost always costs more up front to create a living trust than it does to draw up a simple will. The documents that establish a trust are much more complex than a will, and if your lawyer has advised you that a living trust is the best option for you, it probably means that your estate is a bit larger and more complicated than the average person’s or that you have specific needs for your estate that a simple will cannot fulfill. 

All of this means that it will take your attorney more time to learn about your situation and craft the details of your trust than it would to create a will. At Phillips & Santana, we always respect our clients’ time and money, and we work hard to keep costs down and deliver affordable and efficient estate planning solutions, including living trust documents. 

Still, there’s no getting around the fact that creating a living trust requires a bit more initial investment than drafting a simple will. 

Why Create a Living Trust if It Costs More? 

You might have noticed that we said it costs more up front to create a living trust compared to a will. However, in the long term, a living trust can actually save you money. That’s because a living trust allows the assets in it to avoid probate, and probate comes with plenty of its own monetary costs, not to mention the time investment and headaches it often involves. 

When you decide to go with a simple will, the cost of probate in Michigan will often amount to 5 or 10 percent of the total value of your estate. That means if the overall value of your estate is $500,000, the costs for probate could add up to $50,000, which is much more than the cost of creating a living trust. 

Besides the monetary cost, probate also takes up time and creates a lot of stress for your loved ones. Most probate cases take months to wrap up, and some can drag on for years. During that time, your loved ones won’t have any access to the assets that are going through probate, which can create significant financial hardships for some families. 

Can I Save Money on a Trust by Creating It Myself?

Since most of the cost of creating a trust comes from your attorney’s time, you might entertain the idea of creating and filing the trust documents on your own. There are lots of books and online services claiming they can help you create a valid living trust for very little cost, and these can seem very appealing to the budget-conscious person.  

RELATED: Michigan Estate Planning Basics – Everything You Need to Know

The problem with many of these services is that the documents they offer are just boilerplate forms that don’t account for your unique circumstances or needs. Unless you choose the forms very carefully, they may not even reflect Michigan law. 

Not only that, but you’ll often find that the advertised price for these services is just a marketing ploy. Once you start creating your trust documents, you’ll see that the website or service will offer you all sorts of “optional” add-ons and upgrades that are actually necessary to successfully create a living trust. 

The cost of all these “extra” features adds up quickly, so you’ll usually end up paying much more than the advertised price to use these DIY trust services. In addition, if you’re not working with an attorney, there’s no one who can examine the documents and make sure you’ve done everything right, and if something goes wrong, you won’t have anyone you can turn to for help. 

These are just a few of the reasons why setting up your own trust without help from a lawyer is usually a bad idea. Don’t take our word for it, though. Just read the disclaimer that comes with almost every service that offers to help you create your own trust. They all say some variation of the same thing: “This information is not legal advice and is not a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, consult an attorney.” 

Contact the Law Offices of Kari Santana for Help Creating a Living Trust in West Michigan 

Whether you’re established and have a large, complex estate or you’re young and just getting started, the experienced estate planning team at the Law Offices of Kari Santana can help you get ready for the future with our affordable estate planning services. We understand that your estate planning needs are as unique as you are, and we’ll address them with creative, custom-tailored solutions that can give you confidence and peace of mind. 

To get started today, call us at (616) 717-5759 or fill out our quick and easy online contact form. 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.