DISADVANTAGES OF LIVING TRUSTS (Part 3) – BEWARE OF THE THREE RING BINDER

I frequently meet clients whose living trust is a 50+ page agreement mounted in a padded red or green three-ring binder containing 150 pages or more. Although there are exceptions, many of these packages are generated through a one-size-fits-all template distributed through a national vendor. Typically, 1/3 to 1/2 of the pages are irrelevant to the client’s particular circumstances. Sifting through countless pages to glean the essence of the plan is frustrating and unnecessary.

Every client deserves a customized trust agreement. If your agreement is more than 20 single-spaced pages, it is probably bloated with irrelevant material. There are perhaps four key sections to a trust, namely (1) designation of trustees (and successor trustees), (2) allocations to minimize estate taxes, (3) apportionment of taxes among beneficiaries, and (4) the ultimate disposition of wealth at death. These topics should be readily identifiable without digging through dozens of pages.

If your trust agreement is incomprehensible to you, it may also be incomprehensible to those who will ultimately administer your affairs. Shorter is better.

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