Living Trusts: 5 Things to Ask Before Hiring a Trust Attorney

Sep 25, 2020

When it comes to something as personal and essential as creating a living trust, you want to go to an attorney who is known to be reliable and trustworthy. Here are 5 questions you should ask before hiring a wills and trusts attorney to administer your living trust.

1. Will the Trust Attorney Administer the Living Trust and Help the Family After a Your Death?

To administer the trust means to follow your instructions after your death. There are several phases to administering a living trust after death, the gathering phase is first, where the trustee will gather and organize the Decedent’s estate planning material, information, and documents.

A trust attorney steps in once all this information has been gathered and ready to be administered. A reliable trust administration attorney will help the trustee with many tasks. This includes giving notice to all the beneficiaries and heirs, lodging the Decedent’s Will with the court clerk in the county where the Decedent passed, notifying certain government agencies of the death, locating beneficiaries, reviewing trust investments, protecting trust assets, and planning how to fund sub-trusts- to name a few.

If the attorney you hire to write the trust says they “DO NOT” administer trusts, then most likely, they have no clue what they actually writing in the document. Think about it. If they will not be able to help your family put the work that they created for you, this is a clue that they don’t know how the trust functions at its basic level.

2. How Many Years of Practice Do They Have in Estate Planning?

It’s very important to consider an attorney’s number of years in practice upon hiring. Evidently, the longer an attorney has worked in a specific field the more knowledge and experience they will have to help you. This is especially true with estate planning. The more trust an attorney has written, the more estate problems the attorney has helped solve, the better equipped they are to handle your matter.

3. What is the Attorney’s Practice Area? 

You normally won’t see a patient going to get a root canal with a neurosurgeon. Or, asking an electrician to help you install copper plumbing. Why’s that? Because every need asks for its specialist. If estate planning is not your attorney’s primary focus (or better yet, only focus), you may not get the necessary knowledge and experience needed to plan, craft, and administer your trust in a specialized manner. Trust and estates are very complex areas of the law that requires specialized knowledge and an attorney who is continuously keeping up with law changes. If an attorney has multiple practice areas, that means you are paying for a jack of all trades, master of none!

4. Is the Trust Attorney a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Living Trust?

An attorney who is also a certified specialist in trust and estate planning will know exactly how to help you with your estate plan.  Attorneys are licensed by the state of California. Out of all the attorneys licensed, only a fraction practice Trusts & Estates. Of those fraction attorneys, only a very small percentage (less than 1% of estate planning attorneys) are certified by the State of California as specialists in this field. In order to become a specialist, the attorney must have been in practice for atleast five years, spending at least 25 percent of the time in this specific area of law.  In addition, the attorney takes a day long examination testing the different laws in California dealingwith trusts and estates. Then the is certified by the California State Bar after they receive verification that the attorney has prepared at minimum:

  • 30 tax planning matters
  • 50 estate and incapacity plans
  • 40 administration procedures
  • 40 transfers upon death

And the list goes on…

5. Is There Fine Print?

Before you sign with a trust attorney, make sure you know about any hidden charges or costs. These charges include recording fees, additional fees, notarization fees and more. Even for current clients, some attorneys will charge hourly to answer questions or concerns after documents have been signed. At Bazikyan Law Group, we believe in open communication between client and attorney. We offer free annual reviews of all our estate plans to make sure everything is up to date.  Our clients aren’t strained with attorney fees for 2-minute conversations. We want open communications and relationships with our clients.


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