How Much Money Do You Need to Start a Living Trust?

By Jennifer Kiesewetter, J.D.

How Much Money Do You Need to Start a Living Trust?

By Jennifer Kiesewetter, J.D.

A living trust is a written legal document used in estate planning. You place your assets into the trust during your lifetime, and they transfer to your beneficiaries upon your death. It's important to determine if this option is right for you and your family. Often, the cost of setting up a trust is a determinative factor.


What is a Living Trust?

Like a will, a living trust specifies your desires for your assets. A will becomes effective after you die and must enter probate, but this type of trust bypasses probate, enabling your designated successor trustee to carry out your wishes upon your death or your incapacitation.

This type of trust can be revocable or irrevocable. You can revoke or amend a revocable trust at any time during your life. You cannot revoke or amend an irrevocable trust after you execute it. Therefore, you want to understand which kind of legal document you have and what the terms are.

How Much Does a Living Trust Cost?

Depending on the assets you want to place in the trust, trust documents could be complicated. You may need legal help setting up your trust if you plan on putting numerous assets in the trust or if you plan on leaving several assets to designated beneficiaries. An attorney can help you set up your trust to honor your wishes. As of 2019, attorney fees can range from $1,000 to $2,500 to set up a trust, depending upon the complexity of the document and where you live.

You can also hire an online service provider to set up your trust. As of 2019, you can expect to pay about $300 for an online trust.

How Do I Fund a Living Trust?

Funding your trust involves transferring your assets into it. You don't have to move all of your assets into your trust at once. You can also move your assets over time. However, a trust must have assets in it to function as a trust.

When you transfer your assets to your trust, you must change the ownership of those assets to the name of the trust. For example, if you move your home into the trust, you must change the deed to reflect that the trust is the owner of the house, not you. Attorneys refer to this action as "titling the assets to the trust."

You can decide which assets you want to transfer to the trust. You may decide to transfer real property, bank accounts, cars, jewelry, or other items to the trust. An attorney or online legal service can help you think through which assets to hold in your living trust.

A living trust is often part of a comprehensive estate plan. You may find that you have additional questions about how this type of trust complements your will or other estate planning documents. Hiring an attorney or using an online service provider to assist you in answering any questions could save you time and money in the long run. By receiving some additional guidance, you can achieve peace of mind for you and your family.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.