Understanding the laws
There are many state and federal laws that must be carefully followed when setting up a trust. While some states will allow you to set up a trust on your own or set up a trust using an online legal service, other states require that an attorney work with you to establish a trust. Even in states where residents are able to establish trusts on their own or online, it’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney before finalizing the documents.
Setting up trusts online
Many legal websites offer tools for setting up trusts online. The trusts you can set up online are generally simple trusts that achieve the basic goals of naming trustees and beneficiaries. If you choose to set up a trust online, you should consult a trust and estate attorney before finalizing any trust documents. Whether you go directly to an attorney or use an online service that offers the ability to get advice from real attorneys, having a lawyer look over your documents can help you make sure that they're legally binding, and that they achieve all your legal goals.
The cost of establishing a trust can vary based on the type and complexity of the trust, and the method of establishment. Online legal services can charge anywhere from $30-$300 to set up a trust, while consulting with a lawyer can cost anywhere from $1000-$3000, generally. While the cost of consulting with a lawyer may seem very high, a lawyer can make sure that the trust you’re setting up is completely valid and legally sound, which can potentially save you or your heirs money later.
To learn about how to fund your trust, see our article Funding Trusts.