When you met with an attorney a few weeks ago, perhaps all you expected was a simple will. Maybe you thought that, with your situation, the work should be easy and the documents should be few. But now that you have finished working with the attorney, your parting gift is a large binder filled with hundreds of pages. You may be wondering, “Why is my trust so long?”
Your Estate Planning Toolkit
Creating a comprehensive plan for your future involves numerous different and critical elements. Working with a lawyer to create an estate plan is comparable to hiring a plumber to fix a complicated problem. To provide the best possible service for the customer, the plumber will bring a tool kit filled with an array of tools to your home. This is because the plumber probably won’t know the precise tools he’ll need until the moment he’s there. Similarly, your lawyer is the plumber and your estate planning documents are the tools in the kit.
The tools in your kit come in several forms that impact the length and number of your documents. To best serve you, these documents must accomplish four things:
- They must accurately reflect your desires.
- They must be enforceable in court.
- They must address unanticipated and unpredicted needs.
- They must communicate a unified meaning to the readers.
As a result of the need to address these four requirements, your trust documents may be lengthy. Here are a few considerations regarding the various legal documents that make up your estate planning:
Must Accurately Reflect Your Desires.
One of the key reasons your trust document is so long is because it memorializes your wishes with careful precision. Suppose you are unable to make financial decisions regarding yourself or the money and property in your trust because of illness or death. In that case, the words written in this powerful legal document will be your only opportunity to express your priorities for giving the money and property in the trust to your loved ones. Failure to consider the proper language and accurately articulate what you have communicated to your attorney can cause results that may be opposed with your values and wishes.
Must be Enforceable in Court.
Another reason your trust documents are so long is that they must be comprehensive enough to achieve one of the main objectives of a trust: avoiding the probate process. Your trust document ultimately communicates legal rights, obligations, and responsibilities without involving the court. As a result, your attorneys must make sure that they are covering several possible legal situations that could arise in your future. Though these documents will not be used in probate, they will be used in a legal capacity to communicate to entities such as banks and other financial institutions, medical providers, title companies, and even the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies. This means, your trust needs to be long enough to plan for every possible eventuality. Speaking of eventualities.
Must Address Unanticipated Needs.
Your trust is a comprehensive document created to anticipate both foreseeable and unforeseeable events. Our practice is to help you think about what you would want to see in multiple scenarios. The trust instructions walk you through potential life situations. For example, sections of the trust are dedicated to what would happen if you were to lose the ability to make decisions for yourself. In other areas, your trust not only names a trustee who will take charge of your trust if you were to pass away but also allows you to identify whom you want as a backup, or successor, trustee. This scenario is just one example of many describing how your comprehensive trust plan helps you successfully prepare for unexpected events.
Must Communicate a Unified Meaning.
It is vital to ensure that all the people involved in reviewing and carrying out your wishes have the same interpretation of what you have said. We, as people, interpret ideas based on our subconscious beliefs and personal experiences. This truth means that your lawyers must write this document with clear instructions so that all the different parts of your estate plan can flow together.
Give Us a Call
If you are reviewing your estate plan and are unsure how comprehensive it is, call our office to schedule a meeting. Our experienced estate planning attorneys will help you create a well-rounded trust that protects you and your loved ones. Nielsen Law PLLC provides family focused estate planning to individuals and families in Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, and the Central Texas area. For more information, and to learn about our firm, please contact us. We look forward to working with you.