By Libby Banks, the Law Office of Libby Banks, PLLC

A friend recently told me a story about a woman she knew who did her trust with a company that offered steep discounts. You may already know what’s coming. She met with an attorney for less than 15 minutes. Then, when she signed her trust documents, she was with a salesman who spent hours trying to sell her an annuity. That is one of the problems that often arise with the companies who offer cut-rate deals on a trust.

But what about the other problems? If a trust isn’t put together properly, it won’t provide the support for you and your family when the time comes to use it. Here are a few things that a good trust needs to provide.

Done properly, the trust makes it easy for someone to step in to assist when you need help. However, often trusts done by non-attorneys fail in this role. The trustee appointment only says what happens if the trust owner dies – there is no appointment of a person to serve on incapacity of the trust grantor. To deal with this, we must file expensive court proceedings to appoint a trustee for incapacity when needed. In the meantime, bills go unpaid, or finances deteriorate, since the family cannot move forward.

The trusts we prepare in our office avoid these issues. We are clear about how a successor trustee is appointed to step in for you. In addition, even if all of your named trustees are unable to serve, we have a backup plan to get the right trustee in place without having to go to court. A well drafted and well thought out trust will have these kinds of fail-safe provisions that an estate plan, that is only for the purposes of an annuity sales pitch, won’t contain.

Next, a properly formed and funded trust will hold your assets and upon death provide for the transfer of assets while avoiding a probate and a public disclosure of everything you own. The trust appoints the person you name to handle your estate, and they can do so quickly and in private. First and foremost, the trust first needs to put forward the proper plan for you. I once reviewed a trust done by an annuity company that did not even contain beneficiaries. None. The beneficiaries were left out of the trust document, not even contained in a document attached to the trust (which is also a bad idea).

A trust that is tailored to you will not only name your beneficiaries but take their situations into account. Is someone receiving important government benefits? The trust can hold their share in a special needs trust. Has someone had drug or alcohol issues? We can include substance abuse provisions to protect them. Have a blended family and want to include your spouse and still have your separate children inherit? That takes planning with an attorney, and more than just 15 minutes total time.

It’s important to plan for your estate, and it is important that you do it right. Our office, which includes me and my associate attorney Travis Meyers, would be happy to assist you in doing it properly. Call us at 602-375-6752 and check out our website at