Clients are often surprised to discover that there are actually several different "kinds" of living trusts. They call the office and say, "Hey, how much for a living trust?" The main reason I believe prospective clients ask that question is because they don't really know what to ask, so they ask about fees instead.
Then I tell them, "Well, the fee partially depends on what type of living trust is best for your family." They respond, "What do you mean? I want a 'LIVING' trust." I explain that there are several types of "LIVING" trusts available, and we will address what kind of living trust is best for the client during the initial consultation."
Therefore, during the initial consultation with my clients, we explore the types of trusts available to them, and we try to figure out what would be best for the clients and their particular situation. I make recommendations based on what I learn during the first meeting.
Some trusts allow the surviving spouse to make changes upon the first death. Others do not. Some trusts are only designed to avoid probate and pass assets to others. Other trusts call for a split of the assets into subtrusts upon the first death - some make the split mandatory and others make the trust split discretionary. There are "probate avoidance trusts," "disclaimer trusts," "AB trusts," "ABC/QTIP Trusts," and other variations. Married couples generally have the most flexibility.
Some living trusts have provisions regarding children and some have even further provisions regarding grandchildren. Some contain "Pet Trusts." Some trusts are specific, and others deliberately broad.
Once clients understand they are not going to a get a "one size fits all" estate plan, they start to understand that estate planning is more than just filling out a couple of forms and going home.
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