August 19, 2021

Several challenges are in place when it comes to writing your own revocable living trust, even with the help of online services, articles, or software. A living trust is too important to be left to chance. 

When executed properly, all estate transactions are privately handled, as opposed to the use of a probate court. You will have leeway in deciding who to, when, and how your assets are transferred. When executed improperly, you may have dire circumstances on your hands, a potential disaster. 

How Does A Living Trust Work?

A living trust allows for the set up of an individual to legally hold ownership of all or some of your assets. After a living trust is created, you would fund it. The person who creates the living trust is called the grantor, or trustee, and will manage included assets. This grantor or trustee can also have a “successor trustee” in the case that something should happen and they are not able to manage the trust. 

Estate Planning Is Unique For Each And Every Individual

Estate planning materials can easily be found with an online search. Unfortunately, the documents, software, or fill in the blanks are frequently set up to cover only basics. Each situation is different, and should rightfully be treated as such. The documentation on your trust would include who receives your property, when, and how, which requires more than checking off a quick list online. Computer software may not have the ability to make up for differences, and what you get will be generic. 

Laws also vary by state, so it is important to be in compliance with the laws of your state (i.e. taxes, probate). Singing and writing a legal living trust agreement requires specific legal formalities. 

Read The Disclaimers

On most fill in the blank or other software sites for DIY living trusts, disclaimers are almost identical. 

“We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Consult with an attorney”.

These disclaimers must be taken to heart, or your DIY trust can lead to disaster. It is also of importance to obtain a local attorney, especially within your state. Remember, state laws are unique, and constantly changing, a local attorney will be informed and knowledgeable on all state legal requirements for your living trust. Trusts would also need to be notarized, and witnesses would need to be at the signing. Your attorney can arrange these for you. If not in compliance with state laws, the trust will be void, and if too late, your estate would be required to go through probate court. 

Different forms and documentation may also be required when drawing up a living trust. These forms may include a new deed to transfer real estate, which must be filed within the court system for record. An attorney can arrange this for you as well. One form may not be enough. WHen considering a DIY, remember these factors. 

You May Lose Money With A DIY Living Trust, Not Save!

Yes, we all want the easy way out, and we want to save money and time. But a DIY trust may result in the exact opposite, despite your efforts. Find an experienced, local attorney to avoid the potential of disaster – way more pricey than paying an attorney to do the estate plan for you. The attorney should have experience in all matters estate planning, to include probate, notaries, deeds, estate taxes, and more. 

Have more questions? Not sure how to start? Contact Dana Cannon at for a FREE consultation. Book Now

About the author 

Dana Cannon

Dana M. Cannon has many years of experience with Probates, Conservatorships, Trusts and Estates. During that time she has advised clients on multi-million dollar trust administrations; handled complex litigation; performed estate planning; and represented clients in contested and uncontested conservatorship, guardianship, probate and trust matters. She has been a volunteer at the Los Angeles Superior Court Pro Bono Probate Settlement Program since it began.  She understands that these matters may not just involve money. They are often fueled by emotions and because of that this isn’t just business, it’s personal. She looks forward to assisting you with your legal needs.

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