What Is the Average Cost to Prepare a Living Trust?

By Brette Sember, J.D.

What Is the Average Cost to Prepare a Living Trust?

By Brette Sember, J.D.

When carrying out estate planning, your goals are to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled and that you receive the most protection possible, but you also want to manage costs. So if you're deciding between creating a will or a living trust, expense can play a large role in your consideration.

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Living Trusts

A living trust is an option for estate planning that can be very attractive. You, as the grantor, transfer your assets into the trust. During your lifetime, the assets are held by the trust. After your death, the assets are distributed to your beneficiaries according to your wishes and on any schedule you choose. The trust becomes the owner of your assets during your lifetime.

With a living trust, you can be the trustee-the manager of the assets-and also maintain the power to make any changes you want to the trust. You can move assets in or out of it-or even cancel the trust completely. Living trusts are a popular choice because, unlike with a will, the assets in the trust do not have to go through probate after your death.

Ownership of Trust Assets

Once a living trust is created, you need to move assets into the trust. To do this, legal ownership of the assets must be changed. For example, if you want to place your home in the trust, a new deed must be created with the trust as owner of the home. Deeds must be properly executed and filed with your local registrar to be valid. Fees associated with filing are typically not included in the cost of a living trust. You also need to change ownership of any other asset placed in the trust, such as bank accounts, automobiles, and investments.

Using an Attorney

When you prepare a living trust, you want to make sure it is done properly so that all of your wishes are carried out, it fulfills all legal requirements, and it carries the maximum benefits. Because of this, creating a living trust yourself may not be a good idea. Using an attorney means that the trust will be completed correctly, but the associated fees can greatly increase the cost of creating a living trust.

The average cost for an attorney to create your trust ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 for an individual and $1,200 to $1,500 for a couple. Legal fees vary by location, so your costs could be much higher or slightly lower. In comparison, attorney's fees for drafting a will are much lower, generally $200 to $400 for an individual and $300 to $500 for a couple.

You also have the option to form your trust on your own using an online service. This do-it-yourself approach is a less expensive alternative that is personalized and state-specific.

Living Trusts and Estate Plans

If you hire an attorney to create your living trust, she will likely create the trust as part of a comprehensive estate plan. To fully achieve all necessary protections, you need a will, powers of attorney, and health care directives, in addition to your living trust. Ask exactly what is included in the lawyer's fee before you agree to work together.

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.