How much does a trust cost? And should there be an alternate trustee?

A fellow caregiver asked...

How much does a trust cost? And should there be an alternate trustee?

Expert Answer

I believe that you are asking how much a living trust costs. A living trust is one designed to avoid probate. You create a living trust while you are alive. It functions after your death to transfer the trust assets to the people or institutions you named to receive them, your beneficiaries.

The cost of creating a living trust depends on whether you create one yourself, without using a lawyer, or hire a lawyer to prepare one. For do-it-yourselfers, there are a number of available resources, including a book I wrote for Nolo Press, titled "Create Your Owen Living Trust." The cost of a self-help resource is roughly $50.

If you hire a lawyer to prepare a living trust for you, that lawyer will probably charge by the hour. Lawyers' fees for preparing a living trust can vary significantly. At the lower end, expect fees of $200 or $250 and hour. At the higher end, fees run $450 an hour an up. A lawyer will probably spend at least three or four hour to prepare a living trust, which includes an interview with you which usually lasts about an hour.

You are the original trustee of your living trust. When you die, you need to have named a successor trustee, to take over and distribute the trust property to the beneficiaries. It's a wise idea to name an alternate successor trustee, in case your first choice can't serve.

Often the successor trustee is also a substantial beneficiary of the trust. In that case, the successor trustee is usually not paid fees for his or her trustee services. However, that is a matter you need to be sure that you and your successor trustee agree on.