are online trusts ok...

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piton
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are online trusts ok...

Post by piton »

What do you think about creating a trust online? I have seen “free” (I don’t understand that business model) and inexpensive, like nolo, etc.

situation: The goal is to get the money out of the grandparents trust and distribute the money to the grandkids (minor beneficiaries) and following the directions of the grandparents trust in terms of age for distribution, starting at 25.

I see this as the most basic trust. This is not a large amount of money, but not trivial. I want to avoid spending the beneficiaries money on legal fees without compromising the original intention stated in the trust.
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cheese_breath
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by cheese_breath »

FWIW I would never try to create a trust without an attorney. IMO avoiding potential adverse consequences of doing it wrong is worth what you'd pay an attorney to do it right.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.
Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

piton wrote: Fri Jan 31, 2020 11:25 am What do you think about creating a trust online? I have seen “free” (I don’t understand that business model) and inexpensive, like nolo, etc.

situation: The goal is to get the money out of the grandparents trust and distribute the money to the grandkids (minor beneficiaries) and following the directions of the grandparents trust in terms of age for distribution, starting at 25.

I see this as the most basic trust. This is not a large amount of money, but not trivial. I want to avoid spending the beneficiaries money on legal fees without compromising the original intention stated in the trust.
There is a saying, "penny wise, pound foolish". Would you consider doing your own surgical suturing if you could get the sutures for next to nothing? Why do you think a legal document is any different? Sure, you could utilize these "services" but then unless your craft is that of the legal profession how would you know if it could stand up in a court of law if the terms of the trust were questioned in a lawsuit brought on by the beneficiaries or by other non interested parties? If you think a trust is costly now, try fighting a lawsuit. Full disclosure: I am not an attorney nor do I work for one.

How much is the total of the trust?
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cheese_breath
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by cheese_breath »

Grt2bOutdoors wrote: Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:25 pm... If you think a trust is costly now, try fighting a lawsuit....
Assuming you're still alive then. Otherwise other people, possibly strangers settle it.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.
Topic Author
piton
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by piton »

It would be interesting to hear if anybody has any actual first or 2nd hand experience, good or bad. I would really like to hear that.

Keep in mind that the cost of the lawyer vs the trust amount is my concern. And frankly, I don't see concerns with anybody contesting this. I would get "buy-in" from concerned parties. I would not participate in a "fight".
NotWhoYouThink
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by NotWhoYouThink »

Given your previous posts and what you are trying to do odds are very good that online trusts would be more than good enough. Just make sure you have a successor trustee in place in case anything happens to you. Not everyone is a honest and generous with time as you are.
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cheese_breath
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by cheese_breath »

piton wrote: Sat Feb 01, 2020 11:23 am It would be interesting to hear if anybody has any actual first or 2nd hand experience, good or bad. I would really like to hear that.

Keep in mind that the cost of the lawyer vs the trust amount is my concern. And frankly, I don't see concerns with anybody contesting this. I would get "buy-in" from concerned parties. I would not participate in a "fight".
Can't do any comparisons since you haven't told us the trust amount. But I can tell you I paid an attorney in Texas $2500 for a package including Durable POAs, Medical POAs, HIPAA Authorizations, and Medical Directives for both DW and myself, plus a Revocable Trust. Mine was all pretty standard stuff, but from your OP yours doesn't seem to be that complicated either.

But if you really want to know what your trust would cost, why not ask a lawyer? Many of them offer free preliminary consultations where you could get your answer.

edit: I forgot to mention the package also included wills for each of us. As I said, my stuff was pretty standard. He already had templates set up to cover most of it. So it was just a matter of modifying the templates to fit my circumstances and he was done. But IMO the advantage of having the lawyer is he knew what was in the templates would pass all the legal tests, and he knew how to modify them to keep them legal.
Last edited by cheese_breath on Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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CRTR
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by CRTR »

Personally, I have not but my father used Quicken Willmaker Plus for his estate planning (~2007). He did everything correctly, including titling their houses and accounts to trust. They lived in California. I was able (as successor trustee and executor) to process the estate seamlessly. For a simple, uncomplicated, unlikely to be contested estate (Mom, sister and I were the beneficiaries), I don't see why it wouldn't be adequate nor can I imagine the need for something more pricey. I use the modern version for my Mom's estate docs and have been very happy with it.

In spite of having these positive experiences, I chickened out and recently hired an estate attorney for my own needs. . . .but my personal situation is a little more tricky and didn't sweat the $4000 fee . . . I wouldn't trust an out of the box or online product for a more complicated estate.
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JoeRetire
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by JoeRetire »

piton wrote: Sat Feb 01, 2020 11:23 amKeep in mind that the cost of the lawyer vs the trust amount is my concern. And frankly, I don't see concerns with anybody contesting this. I would get "buy-in" from concerned parties. I would not participate in a "fight".
If cost is your only concern, then definitely go with the free internet version. What could go wrong?

I'm sure down the road that all parties will remember that someone "bought-in" at one point in time and nobody will contest the trust or ever try to break it.
It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | And I feel fine.
Topic Author
piton
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by piton »

In spite of having these positive experiences, I chickened out and recently hired an estate attorney for my own needs. . . .but my personal situation is a little more tricky and didn't sweat the $4000 fee . . . I wouldn't trust an out of the box or online product for a more complicated estate.
I agree CRTR - I too went to a lawyer for my trust and I didn't think it was worth it to save a few dollars for something only slightly more complex. All of that said, even with the best of intentions and paying "professionals", I never feel completely comfortable and the only people that will know if any legal agreement works well is when it is tested. For me, this can be applied to every field.
bsteiner
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by bsteiner »

piton wrote: Fri Jan 31, 2020 11:25 am What do you think about creating a trust online? I have seen “free” (I don’t understand that business model) and inexpensive, like nolo, etc.

situation: The goal is to get the money out of the grandparents trust and distribute the money to the grandkids (minor beneficiaries) and following the directions of the grandparents trust in terms of age for distribution, starting at 25.

I see this as the most basic trust. This is not a large amount of money, but not trivial. I want to avoid spending the beneficiaries money on legal fees without compromising the original intention stated in the trust.
piton wrote: Sat Feb 01, 2020 11:23 am It would be interesting to hear if anybody has any actual first or 2nd hand experience, good or bad. I would really like to hear that.

Keep in mind that the cost of the lawyer vs the trust amount is my concern. And frankly, I don't see concerns with anybody contesting this. I would get "buy-in" from concerned parties. I would not participate in a "fight".
A nationally prominent trusts and estates lawyer, now retired, tried doing a Will for himself (as a test, not to actually sign it) on LegalZoom. He said that while it didn't offer all of the choices he would have wanted, it was pretty good.

Of course, the user would have to know which choices to select. For example, it would be better not to mandate distributions, but rather to give the beneficiaries control over their trusts at the desired age.

Do the trustees of the grandparents' trust have authority to make distributions to or for the benefit of the grandchildren?
Luckywon
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by Luckywon »

Whether you prepare your trust online or use a lawyer, do your best to educate yourself. I have found this forum and the books by Jeff Condon (Beyond the Grave and The Living Trust Advisor) helpful in that respect.

Life events have unfortunately led to my retaining several probate and trust/estate attorneys. I have found huge variation in competence of these professionals (as there is in any field). Just because you hire an attorney does not mean you will be served well. If your situation is a simple one, if you hire the wrong attorney and don't know what to ask, I think it is quite plausible that you may be worse off than if you diligently educated yourself and used an online product.

When I created my trust in 2011, I used an estate planning attorney who charged $1500. He was a local attorney who worked out of a home office and had a solo practice and no probate or litigation experience. He drafted a very basic document and offered very little consultation or advice. Even after it was completed, I had little understanding of what it was. It falls short of what I need now and in retrospect I can see it was not optimal for me even when it was drafted.

So I am in the process of restating my Trust. I'm almost certain that if I used an online product I would end up with a better document than the one I have now, since I know a lot more about this than I did in 2011. I have retained an attorney who charges considerably more than the one in 2011 but I still find that knowing what to ask has made a big difference in the process and is resulting a document more suited to my needs than if I knew nothing.
Topic Author
piton
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by piton »

bsteiner,
A nationally prominent trusts and estates lawyer, now retired, tried doing a Will for himself (as a test, not to actually sign it) on LegalZoom. He said that while it didn't offer all of the choices he would have wanted, it was pretty good.
that's the sort of input (good or bad) that I'm looking for
Do the trustees of the grandparents' trust have authority to make distributions to or for the benefit of the grandchildren?
yes, that's my situation - I am a trustee

Luckywon,
I have found huge variation in competence of these professionals (as there is in any field). Just because you hire an attorney does not mean you will be served well. If your situation is a simple one, if you hire the wrong attorney and don't know what to ask, I think it is quite plausible that you may be worse off than if you diligently educated yourself and used an online product.
You sum up pretty much how I look at this...,
quantAndHold
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by quantAndHold »

It sounds like you want to DIY it, and are just looking for confirmation of your choice. If that’s the case, then go for it. I’m sure nothing could go wrong.

I’ll stick with the one my attorney did.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
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celia
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by celia »

piton wrote: Fri Jan 31, 2020 11:25 am What do you think about creating a trust online? I have seen “free” (I don’t understand that business model) and inexpensive, like nolo, etc.
I think you're asking the wrong question. Online can be good or bad. It all depends on things other than "online" or "software generated" or "customized for an individual/family".

situation: The goal is to get the money out of the grandparents trust and distribute the money to the grandkids (minor beneficiaries) and following the directions of the grandparents trust in terms of age for distribution, starting at 25.
Is that your goal or the grandparents' goal? This sounds to me like you want to get take the money out of the grandparents' trust and put it into another trust(s) that are yet to be generated. Is this what the grandparents' trust directs you to do? If not, why are you taking the money out early? As trustee, your role is to follow the directions in the trust as best you can.

Possibly, you don't understand all the parts of the trust and the implications of various phrases contained in it. After you write down all your questions about the trust, a consultation with a lawyer might be needed. Initial consultations are often free.

This is just a guess, but maybe it is not obvious to you how to manage the money for "x" grandkids when they start taking distributions in different years. The easy solution to that is to have the assets split up into "x" accounts (one for each grandchild) but title all the accounts as grandparents trust, and keep track of which account is for which child. As time goes on, they don't have to be invested the same, as the youngest grandchild will not start withdrawing for a long time.

As a trustee, keep in mind that if someone else has to step in as trustee, are your actions going to make any sense to them? Your records may be examined by a future trustee or any grandchild (beneficiary). So your actions should be reasonable with the beneficiary's best interests taking priority. Protect yourself by not doing something out of the ordinary or ignoring things specified in the original trust.
littlebird
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by littlebird »

The purpose of a trust is to hold and distribute assets. Since you, as trustee, will not actually be keeping these assets under your mattress or in your office safe, you have to induce another party -a bank or brokerage for example- to contract with you to keep these assets.

That party has to be confident that your trust does not conflict with their business model or with their regulatory requirements; that they will not be dragged into a court fight over the meaning of provisions or the actual wishes of the grantor. That means that their legal people will be examining your trust each time you open a new financial relationship. The trust must stand on its own; they will not be asking you what you meant by this or that provision. Think how you will feel about that.
Topic Author
piton
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Re: are online trusts ok...

Post by piton »

littlebird wrote,
That party has to be confident that your trust does not conflict with their business model or with their regulatory requirements; that they will not be dragged into a court fight over the meaning of provisions or the actual wishes of the grantor. That means that their legal people will be examining your trust each time you open a new financial relationship. The trust must stand on its own; they will not be asking you what you meant by this or that provision. Think how you will feel about that.
That's a good point. I see that as a benefit (no matter who created the trust) that it will be scrutinized by the trust department at a financial institution.
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