When it comes to getting your legal affairs in order, did you know you can handle most of these documents online from the comfort of your home? It’s true, thanks to the internet. There are so many tools for managing your own documents even if you don’t want to work directly with a lawyer.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Is a Trust?
- Free or Low-Cost Places to Set Up a Trust Online
- Other Places You Can Set Up a Trust Online
- When Should You Use an Online Trust?
Not only does this save you money, but it’s also faster than going to an attorney’s office. With so many free and low-cost resources online, you can set up a secure, legal trust in minutes. Whether you’re sharing your property with a third party or beneficiary, it’s important to handle these documents sooner rather than later.
Just like the rising popularity of online will makers, there are so many places to choose from when it’s time to set up a trust online. So which option is right for you? Let’s go through the various places you can set up a trust online to find the perfect fit for your budget and needs.
What Is a Trust?
First, what exactly is a trust? A trust is a fiduciary relationship in which one party (the trustor) gives another party (the trustee) the right to hold title to property or assets. Basically, this is a form of legal protection for the trustor’s assets, whether it’s real estate property or funds.
Most people think of trusts (or trust funds) as something only used by the wealthy. In reality, trusts are for anyone who has property or assets they’d like to protect. There are 6 main types of trust categories:
- Living trust: Also called an inter-vivos trust, this is a document that provides a trust for someone to use during his or her lifetime. They’re transferred at the time of the trustor’s death.
- Testamentary trust: Also called a will trust, this explains how an individual’s assets will be transferred after someone’s death.
- Revocable trust: This is a type of trust that can be changed or terminated by the trustor during his or her lifetime.
- Irrevocable trust: On the other hand, an irrevocable trust can’t be changed once it’s established.
- Funded trust: A funded trust earns assets during the trustors' lifetime.
- Unfunded trust: An unfunded trust, as the name implies, only becomes funded on the trustor’s death.
How do trusts differ from wills if they’re both designed to protect your assets? Assets are usually safer and more private in a trust than if they’re simply included in a will. In general, wills can be argued in probate court. A trust is much more secure than a will, so they’re usually included in estate planning at all levels.
Free or Low-Cost Places to Set Up a Trust Online
Now let’s begin by sharing the best free or low-cost places to set up a trust online. There’s a common misconception that you need to pay a lot of money or work with an expensive lawyer to set up a trust. In reality, there are several free tools that walk you through this legal process.
1. Rocket Lawyer
Price: Free for 7 days then $39.99 per document
Rocket Lawyer is one of the most well-known and trusted online tools for creating legal documents without the expensive price tag or hassle. You can easily create a living trust for your state using their easy-fill system. From there, you’ll need to pay the flat rate of $39.99 or start a free trial to access your documents.
As the name implies Free Will is a 100% free tool that walks you through making an online will or trust. They specifically cater to revocable living trusts, and this is a way to distribute your possessions to both people and organizations when you pass away. Though limited, this is a respected and reliable online trust tool.
Price: Free for 7 days, then $7 per month
LawDepot is another online tool that helps you create a free revocable living trust. It begins by walking you through the different property types you’d like to include in your trust, from real estate to business ownership. This is one of the more comprehensive tools for making a trust from home.
Tomorrow is unique because it’s a mobile app, and there is no online full-site option. However, their mobile interface is incredibly easy to use, especially for those who want to create a trust on the go. Though it began as a will-maker, Tomorrow now includes a living trust option as well.
Price: $9.99 per month
With Gentreo, you can begin creating legal documents for free. With their estate plan tool, you have access to their will-maker as well as their revocable living trust document. Though there is no assistance from an attorney, Gentreo could be the right fit if you have a simple situation.
Other Places You Can Set Up a Trust Online
If you have the budget for a higher-cost tool, it could be worthwhile to invest in one of these below. These typically include additional extras like attorney assistance, in-depth reviews, and bundled estate planning documents.
6. Nolo WillMaker and Trust
For those who prefer downloadable software to complete their legal documents, NOLO’s Quicken WillMaker & Trust is for you. WillMaker and Trust was created to help average users save on legal fees, and it’s easy to use the legal software to create the right trust for you.
7. Legal Zoom
Price: Starting at $279
If you need more hands-on help with your legal trust, LegalZoom is a great choice. With 2141 highly rated reviews, it’s clear people trust Legal Zoom with even their most complex legal problems and questions. Though their lowest-cost plan is do-it-yourself, their next plan includes attorney assistance if you need it.
Price: Starting at $289
Modern Trust is a new way to create a trust online. They have a variety of different document types, including revocable living trusts, property transfer deed, and business assignments. With a mobile app as well as a desktop tool, this is an accessible and modern way to create a legal, secure trust.
Willing is another trusted tool created by attorneys. Though they specialize in legal wills made easy, you can also create a revocable living trust to pass your assets on when you die. It includes a transfer deed as well as a transfer-on-death deed, helping keep your property from probate court.
10. Trust & Will
Price: Starting at $299
Trust & Will is a highly recommended tool for preparing all of your legal documents. Featured in the New York Times and Forbes, their trust-based estate plan covers just about everything. With Trust & Will’s easy tool, you can ensure your children, pets, and assets are all taken care of on your own terms when your time comes.
When Should You Use an Online Trust?
Just like when making an online will, you’ll want to know how these differ from in-person attorney documents. While it’s true you’re creating a legal, secure document no matter the route you choose, there are some instances where it’s better to work with a lawyer.
Ultimately, estate planning is never one-size-fits-all. Laws can vary by state, and they’re also updated regularly. You can feel comfortable using an online trust tool if:
- You have a limited number of assets or properties
- You have a very straightforward way you’d like to pass on these assets
- You wish for these assets to be transferred when you die
If the above isn’t true or doesn’t fit your situation, it’s best to consult with an attorney. More complex trusts, like those that handle a lot of assets or are passed down when the trustee reaches a certain age, for instance, need more protections.
When in doubt, you can always start with an online template and seek additional help from an attorney. By calling or scheduling a consultation, you can see if what you already have is the right fit for you, or if you need to revise your document to be more comprehensive.
Make Sure Your Assets Are Protected
Whether you choose an online trust tool or a traditional attorney, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself. It’s never been easier to handle your legal needs from the comfort of your home, which is good news for those who might not have created an estate plan otherwise.
That being said, you should make sure you understand the pros and cons of online trusts. If you’re in a situation where you’re not sure of the right documents for your needs, talk to an attorney. Your peace of mind is the most valuable asset of all, so it’s best to take care of these questions sooner rather than later.