My Will and Trust are Complete,
Do I Still Need an Attorney?
Compliments of Sterling & Tucker, LLP
Written By: The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys
Most people are under the impression that once they’ve created a Will or Trust they no longer require the expertise of an estate planning attorney. Even though you think the initial work is complete, there are many instances down the road when the services of a legal professional may be needed.
Periodic Review of Your Estate Plan
From time to time, especially after life changing events (divorce, marriage, children, etc.), you should review your estate plan. Even if you think your life changes might be minor, here are some of the many reasons to review your documents every two to four years:
- Changes in relationships with loved ones
- Changes in the size or make-up of your assets
- Changes in the physical, mental, or emotional status of your loved ones
- Different needs that should be addressed to protect your loved ones
If the Trustor (the person who creates a Trust) is serving as Trustee of the Trust and wants to resign, an attorney’s services may be needed.
A resignation must be prepared and signed, and the successor Trustee needs to qualify to serve. Additionally, questions about accounting, including the transfer and value of assets, must be addressed and resolved. To ensure continuity in the administration it is best for the successor trustee to start on the right foot, which includes the guidance of a qualified attorney.
What would happen if the Trustor and/or Trustee becomes physically or mentally incapacitated? This leads to a variety of questions and concerns, all of which can be addressed by an estate planning attorney. Once thoroughly discussed, it is necessary to qualify the Successor Trustee to carry out the terms of the Trust. That person will need help from the onset, along with periodic consultations about Trust related matters, if needed.
Death of a Trustee
Upon the death of a Trustee, it is once again necessary to require the services of an estate planning attorney. This can bring forth a variety of complications, not to mention the heartache of possibly losing another love one. There are many technical questions that arise. Are there death tax returns that need prepared? Are there accounting concerns to address? Will the Trust be terminated? How does the Successor Trustee take control of the assets? These are just a few of the many questions that will come to light upon the death of a Trustee.
Once your Will and Trust are complete, it is easy to believe the guidance of an estate planning attorney will no longer be needed. As explained in this article, this is not typically true. It is important that you rely on the expertise of an estate planning attorney to create the appropriate documents, and to handle administrative effectively as life presents changes.