Who should I see to set up an irrevocable trust?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 18, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Who should I see to set up an irrevocable trust?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

While most lawyers would argue that you need to hire them to write  a trust, the truth is that only you can do the hardest part of the job: understanding what your property is and deciding who should get it.

If you're willing to do a bit of brainwork, you can get lots of good guidance from some self-help products out there. First, be sure that such a book or software was written and reviewed by lawyers who can assure that it produces documents that comply with the nuances of you state's law and that it is updated often. Avoid template forms that profess to be legal in every state for every need.

A self-help law product may not be your best solution if you have a very complicated situation -- for example, you need to set up a special needs trust for a child who has a disability. But for most folks, they can do the trick.

To save time and money and retain some control over their documents, some people who still want reassurance opt to produce a draft of these legal documents with a self-help product, then hire a lawyer who will agree to simply eyeball it to be sure it has met their needs.

If you decide to hire a lawyer for such review, or to write the trust wholesale, look for an experienced estate planning lawyer. Ask friends and family members whether they can make references to someone local. If not, begin your search at the website of your state bar, but be mindful that the lawyers listed usually do not go through any particular vetting process that ensures they are good or reliable. You may need to interview a few people before selecting one who seems like a good fit for your needs.