|The documents, which are anything but free in terms of the fees charged for their preparation, usually consist of a binder containing a boiler plate trust with little or no focus on the client’s specific circumstances. In addition, there have usually been no clear verbal or written instructions or assistance given to the client regarding the transfer of his or her current or future assets to the trust. Often, the client is not given a meaningful understanding of even the purpose of the trust. By the time we prepare necessary amendments and assist the client in properly funding the trust, the total cost of the free seminar is usually much higher than if the client had just come to us in the first place.
It is understandable that people will want to obtain what they hope will be a better understanding about wills and trusts before seeing a lawyer, but we should always keep in mind that a free seminar is intended to sell you something. If the presenters are from an organization which you know nothing about, it might be best to stay away. On the other hand, there are reputable local attorneys who put on estate-planning seminars to attract clients, and your outcome may well be better.
However, the best way to obtain good information and effective preparation of wills and trusts is to consult privately with an experienced estate-planning attorney who has been recommended to you by a trusted financial advisor, accountant or friend. It will not be free, but then nothing is.
Bruce L. Woodbury is an attorney with the law firm of Jolley Urga Wirth Woodbury & Standish. The firm has offices in Boulder City and Las Vegas. To contact Bruce, call him at 293-3674 or 699-7500, or visit his website at www.juww.com.