What is a Trust Attorney?

What is a Trust Attorney?

If you’re new to the world of trust and estate law, you may wonder: What is a trust attorney? This specific type of legal professional can help you navigate the complex legal landscape of trusts, from creation to administration. This blog post will explain what a trust attorney is, what they do, and under what circumstances you may need one.

Understanding the Basics

A trust attorney is a legal professional specializing in the field of trusts and estates. Unlike a general practitioner, a trust attorney possesses specialized knowledge and experience in drafting, implementing, and administering trusts. 

In legal terms, a trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary. Trusts are instrumental in managing and distributing assets according to the wishes of the person establishing the trust, who is known as the settlor or grantor.

Roles and Responsibilities

A trust attorney performs the following tasks:

Trust Creation & Document Drafting

Trust attorneys are skilled in crafting legally sound and comprehensive estate planning documents including various kinds of trusts, health care powers of attorney, financial powers of attorney, real estate deeds, wills, and more. 

They work closely with clients to understand their unique circumstances, goals, and concerns, tailoring the documents to address specific needs. This process involves determining the type of trust that best suits the client’s objectives, whether it be a revocable living trust, a simple last will and testament, an irrevocable trust, or other specialized trusts.

Legal Advice and Counsel

Trust attorneys provide legal advice throughout the estate planning process. They guide clients on various matters, including tax implications, asset protection, and the selection of trustees and beneficiaries. Their expertise ensures that clients make informed decisions aligned with their financial goals and objectives.

Tax Planning

Trust attorneys are well-versed in tax laws and play a crucial role in minimizing estate taxes, gift taxes, and capital gains taxes. By employing strategies to protect assets from excessive taxation, they help clients preserve the maximum value of the estate for future generations.

Administration of Trusts

After the trust creator passes away, a trust attorney works with the successor trustee to oversee the trust administration. This involves guiding the successor trustee through the legal requirements, resolving any issues that may arise among beneficiaries, and managing the distribution of trust assets. The attorney acts as a liaison between the trustee and beneficiaries, ensuring the trustee observes their fiduciary duties and that the trust is executed as the settlor intended.  

A trust attorney should understand the intricacies of the California probate process and also be able to guide clients who only created a will through the process of administering the estate.  

Why Hire a Trust Attorney?

When would you need to hire a trust attorney? You should consider hiring this type of lawyer if:

  • You wish to create or update a trust. Trust law is intricate and subject to constant changes. Trust attorneys stay abreast of legal developments and possess the expertise required to navigate the complexities of estate planning.
  • You need to administer a trust after the death of a loved one. A trust attorney can help you complete the trust administration in the most efficient manner possible.
  • You need advice on how to minimize taxes. A trust attorney can help you develop a plan to avoid excessive estate, gift, and capital gains taxes.

Trust Lawyer vs. Trust Litigator

It’s important to note that there is a difference between a trust lawyer and a trust litigator. If a conflict escalates to the point of being contested or potentially litigated, you should seek out an experienced trust litigation attorney who can represent your interests. Most trust attorneys do not have the litigation experience necessary, making a trust litigator more appropriate.

To sum it up, a trust attorney’s job is to help clients find peace of mind. If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to contact our law firm. 

Law Offices of Daniel A. Hunt

The Law Offices of Daniel A. Hunt is a California law firm specializing in Estate Planning; Trust Administration & Litigation; Probate; and Conservatorships. We've helped over 10,000 clients find peace of mind. We serve clients throughout the greater Sacramento region and the state of California.