Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Inadequacies of Fill-In-The-Form Estate Planning

Trust Many individuals purchase will kits, fill in the relevant information, and then believe that their estate planning needs were met. An individual should make many considerations during the estate planning process, however, and simply using a run-of-the-mill will kit could end up hurting the heirs of those who seek estate planning advice from a box. Below are just a few of the considerations that fill-in-the-blank estate planning forms fail to address:

Trustee’s Compensation: Jurisdictions, as a default, typically calculate a Trustee’s compensation based on money going in and out of a trust, along with an annual percentage of the estate assets. If you would like a different compensation plan to govern, it needs to be explicitly put forth in the trust instrument.

Distributions to Beneficiaries: The settlor can determine when and how beneficiaries receive funds. Instead of giving funds to beneficiaries all at once, beneficiaries can receive funds annually, when they reach a certain age, or in another manner the settlor sees fit.

Trustee’s Powers: Many “traditional” or “classic” wills give trustees wide discretion when administering the trust. If a settlor would like to limit (or even widen) the trustee’s powers, he or she should state the required adjustments in the trust instrument.

See Bruce La Rochelle (Attorney at Law, Ottawa, Canada), More Than Filling in the Form, brucelarochelle, May 27, 2011.


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