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As with the question on a will without an attorney, I'm wondering how well it would work to draw up a "Revocable Living Trust Agreement" without a lawyer. If it varies hugely by state, my specific interests are Colorado and Arizona. The goals of the trust would include preserving the "stretch" of the included IRAs in the trust.

I see, e.g. Making a Living Trust: Can You Do It Yourself? | Nolo.com.

Has anyone made one of these with Nolo (or any other widely-used source)? Any experiences out there with them after the trustor dies?

Are there any lawyers that specialize in helping people customize Nolo's documents, or in giving advice to trustees in using them after the trustor dies?

  • The problem with revocable trusts is not while the trustor is living (especially when the trustor is also the trustee) but when he/she dies and the trust becomes irrevocable. At that point, it is too late; the successor trustee has to follow the directions of the trustor, and if they are defective, there is no way to fix them. As a general rule, revocable trusts are not worth setting up unless the assets are substantial, and even more so when both spouses have substantial assets individually, in which case, you can afford it; get a lawyer specializing in estate planning and trusts. – Dilip Sarwate Jun 18 '12 at 20:57
  • @nealmcb - you specifically mention IRAs. Are most of the assets that will pass in retirement accounts or is it a mix? What do you feel the trust benefit is over simply using the IRA beneficiary designation take place? – JoeTaxpayer Jun 19 '12 at 4:28
  • @DilipSarwate Thanks for the input. Part of the motivation for the question involves reducing the threshold at which trusts are worth setting up. Besides that, I suspect that there are lawyers that know how the Nolo stuff works in their state (since Nolo publishes a lawyer directory also), who would charge less than they would if the client wasn't doing some of the work themself. I'd also think that even if I choose to use a lawyer, it would help to use a popular trust framework and text, so that I could if necessary find other lawyers to help me with them. – nealmcb Jun 20 '12 at 18:55
  • @JoeTaxpayer I expect that various IRA-related aspects may be appropriate for a separate question, but for this one, assume that its a mix. – nealmcb Jun 20 '12 at 20:37
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I've never used any of those sites for generating legal documents, however, for something as important as the documents you are asking about, I would just hire a lawyer. If you can't afford to have one write the document for you, at least one who will check and be behind it after the trustor dies (although I'm not sure that would really save you much money).

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