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When I go car shopping, I have a number of metrics I can use to evaluate the value of what I’m buying – miles per gallon, horsepower, and length of warranty for instance.  But what kind of metrics can the average person use to evaluate the value of the trust they have?  Pretty binder?  The length of the document?  Here are some key things to look at when evaluating the effectiveness (value) of your trust.

Customization - Putting Your Voice Into Your Plan

Did your attorney take the time to talk to you about your family?  Every family is unique, and your estate plan should reflect your family’s needs and your financial goals.  A simple fill in the blank form can’t accomplish this.  In contrast to the cookie-cutter, one size fits all approach, trusts are very flexible instruments and can do a whole lot more than simply avoid probate, as I’ve written about here and here.

Implementation - Integrating Your Stuff with Your Plan

How much help and direction did you receive regarding transferring assets into your trust?  Trusts avoid probate because the title to your assets has been changed to the trust.  Pretty simple right?  You’d be surprised how many people miss this step in setting up their own trust or even working with some law firms.  And it can be more complicated than it first appears.  One example would be getting the trust transfer deed correct so that you don’t trigger a reappraisal.  Another example would be knowing when and when not to name a trust as a beneficiary for life insurance or retirement plans.

Long Term Support - Keeping You and Your Plan Up to Date

What kind of support do you receive for your estate plan package?  Our support plan includes the following:

  • Free phone calls to answer your questions
  • Free weekly email newsletter to keep you informed
  • Special notices and seminars as law and planning changes
  • Special family discount
  • A free checkup meeting every three years


As the founding principle attorney at Estate Plan Pros, an Elk Grove law firm, I’ve made it our mission to empower people through education.  Together, our team has over 30 years combined experience in education.  For more than a decade, I’ve practiced law in Sacramento focusing on estate planning and family law.  Because of my practice focus, I have spent a lot of time in court, and probably have more court experience than most estate planning attorneys.  Because of that experience, I know how family disagreements get resolved, and how to avoid problems before they start.  I truly believe a well-planned estate can avoid those problems, and that is why I’m so passionate about estate planning.

A living trust is more than a final product, it is a plan for your family’s future peace of mind and financial security. 

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