I recently had two clients, within one week, come to our office with trusts that were purchased from a third-party trust company that is unaffiliated with a law office or an attorney. For both clients, we had to start from scratch and entirely re-draft their trusts because the trusts were nonsensical.
For the first client, Mary, the trust contradicted itself in four different sections, effectively rendering it null and void. Additionally, Mary did not fully understand what she had to do to fund the trust. Consequently, the trust was not properly funded. There was nothing in the trust, even if it had been drafted correctly.
For the second client, John, the trust left blanks for John to complete on his own. This often creates a problem because a trust is a legal document and to be binding, it must comply with the law. If the document is typewritten but there are handwritten provisions within the typewritten document, then we have no way of knowing whether these handwritten provisions were really written by John himself and not by someone else. Therefore, the errors and omissions in the handwritten sections rendered the trust null and void.
In general, trusts need to be signed in front of a notary and any amendments to the trust should be done formally with a notary as well. Unfortunately, I see many clients come to our office with handwritten amendments within the Trust document itself. There is a high risk that, if contested, these amendments will not be valid since there is no way of knowing if they were truly amendments made by the client.
In sum, it is ill-advised to pay a trust company for a trust without the benefit of legal counsel. Not all trusts are the same as everyone has unique circumstances that require personalization. A form trust generally does not work well. You should have a trust created specifically for you; considering your assets, your heirs, and your wishes. At Morris Law Center, we will meet with you to craft an Estate Plan specifically for you.
We prepare our clients for the future, and protect them along the way.
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