If You Can Have It Your Way, Why Don't They Ask What Your Way Is?
Posted on: March 23rd, 2012
It's natural for people to look for the cheapest price around. Unfortunately when it comes to an estate plan people seem to be settling all too often for less than what they really need. Many form filling services have sprung up in the last few years offering low cost estate plan documents- such as Willmaker and Legalzoom. While it is perfectly legal for someone to draft their own estate plan without the assistance of an attorney there are many legal decisions that go into drafting an estate plan- decisions that could affect your family's future for generations to come. Unfortunately, these low cost planning alternatives fail to address your specific family's needs and fail to adequately address potential pitfalls which haint the majority of estates today.
Another cut rate estate scam that many people fall into is working with some para-professional, such as a paralegal or CPA, etc. who is not coordinating with an attorney to assist them in creating an estate plan. Such services may give the appearance of competence and may charge much less than an attorney would. They may even give the reassurance that someone "who knows" has approved your plan. However, such assistance constitutes the unauthorized practice of law and is essentially the equivalent of criminal activity. It's sad when a trust plan drafted by one of these non-attorneys fails because clients who thought they were competently represented find that there is no recourse for them. There was no fiduciary relationship formed, no attorney-client privilege, no professional expectations, and no malpractice liability. Thus they're left with no remedy unless they can prove fraud, which is difficult when you knew or should have known, the para-professional you worked with was not licensed as an attorney and ineligible to provide legal advice as to your estate.
Finally, the last cut rate estate plan option that people pursue comes in the form of trust mills. Trust mills, like the aforementioned options use one size fits all templates to create your estate plan regardless of what special considerations you might have. They rarely fund trust plans (an essential process for a trust to work properly) and they usually offer an A-B trust to everyone who comes through the door. The difference is that these are attorneys who should know better. Yet, since they don't specialize in estate planning and rarely have occasion to see the negative effects of their poor service, they claim that there is absolutely no reason to pay more than their rate far any kind of trust plan, albeit the fact that a trust that actually works will save more money than it will cost. While hundreds of people have these types of template form documents, upon review of 90+ percent of them, they would not serve their intended purposes if contested in court. How much assurance does that give you? The simple fact is an attorney cannot spend the necessary time with a client to get to know them and offer personalized advice, then implement a proper plan, if they are only charging less than $500 to do it. As a result, these trust mills rarely get to know your needs before sticking you into their template forms and calling it "your trust".
People deserve better. If you paid between $300 and $700 dollars for your trust plan and they didn't ask specific questions about your estate planning needs before sticking you into an A-B trust, chances are that you paid a lot of money for a stack of papers and got virtually no actual planning. Many estate plans just don't stack up. They cost far more in the end than they "saved" in the beginning. Don't let that happen to you.
At Alder & Robb P.C. every trust is created to fit your needs. Contact us at (801) 463-2600, for a free trust review, to see how your plan measures up.
"Let Us Earn Your Family's Trust"