Saw a great Facebook post, and I just had to share it! During the 18 years I was involved in civil litigation, I was confounded by how many incredibly smart people would enter into a business contract without involving any lawyers (a DIY business contract) in order to save money. Then, when there was an inevitable dispute on the contract and the parties resorted to litigation, they would retain an A1 trial attorney but were upset and appalled at having to pay the fees charged by this highly skilled, top of the line professional.
My thought then and now is that you can’t go cheap on both sides of the deal! Either you pay a lawyer’s fee on the front end to ensure that you are entering into a wise and sound business contract, that all the provisions are in place to protect your interests, OR you pay a ton of money to a first-rate trial attorney to represent you in the litigation when your DIY contract falls apart and there are contractual deficiencies, or provisions that you presumed were there that aren’t (such as a provision that allows the prevailing party to recover their attorney’s fees), or provisions that you thought would protect you that in reality don’t.
One of my all-time favorite authors, James Clavell, wrote “a bad decision at the right time can destroy you far more surely than any bullet!” That is never more true than when smart people create a DIY Living Trust that turns out NOT to be what they thought it was. Why? Because a defective Living Trust is usually not revealed until it’s too late to do anything about it: a loved one has died and the Trust doesn’t protect the estate from taxes or from being adjudicated in Probate Court, or doesn’t properly protect the surviving spouse, or the beneficiaries, or the expressed wishes of the decedent.
I get it! I really do. I’m always looking for a bargain. My wife and I never pay full price at the movies. We almost always go to a restaurant already having a discount or reward of some sort in hand before we even order. I never pay full price for protein or workout supplements. Never! But, in the legal realm, the adage “you get what you pay for” is simply an irrevocable truth. If you go cheap, you get cheap. It’s just how such things work. Avoid being “pennywise and pound foolish.”
So, when it comes to putting together your Family Living Trust – or reviewing an existing Family Trust, you need a highly skilled professional! You need a top of the line estate planning attorney, one who will design your Trust so that it:
- Protects you and your spouse, while alive, from the wealth-busting costs of long-term medical care and nursing home expenses;
- Provides for and protects the surviving spouse;
- Acts like a Sentry to safeguard and preserve the short- and long-term interests of your beneficiaries,
- Minimizes or even eliminates any tax implications,
- Avoids any Court involvement, and
- Ensures that your Family and Financial Legacy are passed on to future generations.
I’ll be giving a free workshop at 6 p.m. in La Canada-Flintridge on Wednesday, March 13th at the La Canada Public Library called: Why Most Estate Plans Fail and What to Do About It. Seating is limited, so you’ll want to reserve your seat now. Click this Link to reserve your seat.