Can I create my trust without an Attorney?

Posted almost 5 years ago. Applies to California, 3 helpful votes

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1

It's kind of like if you built your own house during the summer when the weather was really good ....

It's kind of like if you built your own house during the summer when the weather was really good and you thought you knew what you were doing, but unknowingly overlooked a key element like putting waterproof felt between the sheeting and the shingles (who would know that, I thought you'd just put the shingles right on the wood). You might not find out right away that you had overlooked this important item, but a couple years later the sheeting would start to rot away and by the third winter you'd have rain in your house and by the time you figured out what you had done wrong, it'd be too late to do anything about it. It's the same with do it yourself estate planning. It will seem really easy and as if you've done everything you're supposed to do. And, you'll go through your life thinking that you've done a really good thing for your family or your business. But then, a crisis will come, like a lawsuit, hospitalization or even worse, a death.

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And your family will be scrambling to figure out what to do.

And your family will be scrambling to figure out what to do and quite often, they'll find out they've got a mess on their hands because of something simple, but essential, that you overlooked. Like not titling the ownership of your house properly. Or, not signing your Will properly. Something that seems dumb, but is super easy to miss. Even for lawyers. Sadly enough, it doesn't only happen when you do it yourself; this false sense of security can happen when you work with a lawyer too. In fact, most estate plans in place today are in grave danger of failing. We have people call us all the time who have spent thousands of dollars on an estate plan and then ended up in Probate Court anyway.

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Doing something is better than nothing, but doing something wrong and thinking everything has been taken care of is the worst of all.

In the meantime, if you are going to do it yourself, take this advice: 1. Get whatever you do reviewed by a lawyer. It's better to know than to wonder. 2. Make sure you do the whole job, not just part of it. 3. If you have kids, make sure you've adequately provided for their care. Most do it yourself legal products (and lawyers themselves for that matter) don't adequately plan for the things parents really care about. Doing something is better than nothing, but doing something wrong and thinking everything has been taken care of is the worst of all.

Additional Resources

Southern California Trust Attorney

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