A Trust Mill is the term loosely used for organizations that use generic estate planning templates, plug your personal information into them like a cookie cutter, act as if an attorney is somehow involved and then you think you have a quality estate plan.
Over the last 15 years of preparing thousands of high quality estate plans, I’ve seen a lot of Trust Mill documents and have noticed the following trends:
- No attorney was involved at all or the client never met them. When I called the Santa Rosa attorney on the letterhead for the Trust Mill, he denied knowing anything about it. Either he didn’t want to be held liable or the Trust Mill just used his name without informing him.
- The trust mills don’t give the clients a lot of information or advice – they just assume they know most of the answers and fill in the blanks for you. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of inappropriate trust structures and clauses that no one explained to the client let alone asked what they wanted.
- The trust mills seem to go out of business every two years so they can’t be held liable. They recreate themselves with a new name and new corporate structure to generate thousands of estate plans once again – only to go out of business soon thereafter.
- Very little funding of the trust was accomplished, leaving most of the assets exposed to probate in the end. If the bank accounts don’t get changed over into the trust, they may face probate.
- Many trust mills use documents that work generically in any state, and so they don’t use the specific California language or address community property for example.
- Trust mills were initially created to make money. That is their mission.
Your Legacy Lives
In creating the Your Legacy Lives website, I intended to counteract these shady trends as follows:
- Your Legacy Lives does not claim to be legal advice and does not pretend that a lawyer is making everything OK – it clearly gives YOU the responsibility to create your own documents and only hire a lawyer if necessary.
- Your Legacy Lives educates and empowers YOU to fill in the documents yourself and when to recognize red flags that may require legal advice.
- Your Legacy Lives is here to stay. It may take some time to fulfill its mission – that every Californian has an estate plan. Currently, only about 30% have these documents in place.
- Over a dozen funding documents and instructions as well as videos are included to make sure that you know how to put every appropriate assets inside your trust.
- These documents are time tested and for California ONLY. They contain all the California specific provisions and nothing generic across the 50 states.
- Your Legacy Lives was created to provide access to these important documents for those who didn’t want or need to hire an attorney. I believe that everyone deserves quality documents. I have never been motivated by profit in making my templates available. Therefore, I am always improving them and making the process easier.