What is Trusts & Estate Planning Law? How to Find a Trusts & Estate Planning Lawyer

Trusts and Estate Planning

What is Trust and Estate Planning Law?

Trust and estate planning is a highly specialized field of law that refers to the establishment of trusts and the planning of your state. Though most people presume that there is a distinction based on wealth, that belief is incorrect. Anyone can establish a trust, and it is wise to prepare for your estate and to plan how your assets should be distributed in the manner that will most benefit your family and friends.

Governing Law

Trust and estate planning are governed by state law as well as some local ordinances that intersect with the state requirements. Depending on the state, this is either case based or code law. The majority of states provide the law and information on its application on their official government websites. However, other areas of law such as real estate law, contract law, wills, and conflict of laws also come into play. The establishment of a trust depends just as much on the settlor and his location and the nature of the property as the recipients.

Reasons for Hiring an Attorney

Trusts and estate planning are highly complicated. While anyone can set up a trust or attempt to plan an estate, the likelihood of problems arising from that attempt quite high. In some cases, the trust may not even exist, and in others the trust may not fulfill the purposes that the settlor intended. Trust and estate planning law firms specialize in the preparation of these matters, and they often provide guarantees about the quality of their services and what they will provide. If you want to establish a trust or to begin planning your estate, then you need to consult with a lawyer or law firm. You can meet with the attorneys to discuss your options before you are ready to make a decision as well, and a preparatory meeting can help you to better determine what your needs are as well as your wants.

Things to Look for in a Trust and Estate Planning Lawyer

Though not all states offer certification for trust and estate planning, most states do have associations affiliated with the local and state bar association that specialize in trust and estate planning. Finding an attorney who is affiliated with one of these organizations demonstrates a greater knowledge of trusts and estates then that of the general attorney. While a general practice attorney can handle a basic trust, more complicated trust required the assistance of specialists.

In determining the attorney with whom you want to work, you should consider the past track record of this attorney. It can take quite a while for the charges of malpractice to arise, but if they do, you should investigate the reasons for the claim and whether they are warranted or if the attorney could’ve prevented the harm that the client claims. When hiring a law firm or an attorney to handle your trust or estate planning, you will generally not find out how well they have handled it until some time after the establishment. Thus the research into their practices with other clients can be invaluable in determining how they will represent you.

Hiring a trust lawyer who also has experience in family law can also help protect your interests. In certain states such as Indiana, family lawyers have a stronger background in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. It’s not uncommon for a family lawyer to actually combine some element of wills and trusts into her practice, though these are considered distinct areas. The benefit of this is at the family lawyer will be able to inform you about the potential conflicts and help to avoid them before they arise.

Trusts & Estate Planning Blogs

  • Trusts and Estate Planning Basics

    Planning out your estate can seem like a task that can wait until later, but often times, people wait until it’s too late. Even if you don’t have a typical "estate" complete with a mansion, pool, and fountain in the front yard, you should...