Copyright 2015 trustplanning.com
Creating a successful trust requires detail-oriented planning. This must be based on a clear understanding of how trusts work. You must accept that even with planning, problems can arise. And that is why a good, honest, well-intentioned lawyer can be extremely helpful. But a lawyer is only useful after you have educated yourself. This website is an educational, consumer-protection website. It is not a legal website: it does not replace the advice of an estate or trust planning lawyer. If you need help finding a lawyer, get in touch with us.
Take the time to go through this entire website, as if it were a book.
Start by reading all the "In the News" articles. These were carefully selected to give you an overview of the problems and issues associated with trusts: If the wealthiest people in the world (the royalty of England) and the smartest, most hard-working people in the world (Supreme Court justices) and those whose daily life and income is controlled by long complicated contracts (the musicians who regularly write hundred page, colored-M&M-excluding riders governing the execution of their gigs; and the movie stars who make one to twenty million per movie and whose income is entirely governed by the contract)... if these people have problems with their will, their estate, and their trusts, then ordinary people like us had better beware.
Now that you have a sense of context, read the quick guide to trusts.
Next read the section under "Estate Planning" entitled how to choose a trustee. It may seem obvious who to choose as a trustee, but it isn't. You will have to think about who to choose as successor trustee if the trustee you have selected cannot or will not act. The trust you create may last for a long time. You may need to choose multiple successor trustees and alternates. And you will have to think about whether to have a professional trustee involved.
The next area to take some time with is socially responsible investing. This has to be a big part of your trust and estate planning. Your choice of investments will determine the quality of life of your children and grandchildren. They will live in the world created by the corporations you invest in. If you do not specify, explicitly and in writing, the investment strategy of the trust, most trustees will invest predominantly in generic ETFs. That means you have given your power and consent to the general mass of corporations, who will then create a world that is most convenient and profitable for them. This may not be the world you want for your descendants.
Finally, there are two resources that are important enough that they are placed on the home page: www.heirs.net and Nolo press.
Heirs.net helps beneficiaries manage large irrevocable trusts. It also helps with Big Bank trustees gone bad.
Nolo's books explain specialty areas usually monopolized by the legal profession. Nolo has a directory of lawyers sympathetic to clients who want to keep the reins of their lives firmly in their own hands, but who also want the details vetted and overseen by expert lawyers. Lawyers who advertise on Nolo's website seek out intelligent, informed, participatory clients. .
A number of areas will be added soon to the website: an Asset Manager Comparison that helps you find top personal wealth and asset management companies; a Trust Company Comparison; and a directory of lawyers.