My husband and I have a revocable trust established in 1997. I have been advised by an attorney that given that the trust is almost 20 years old and that the tax laws have changed, that it would be in our best interest to have it brought up-to-date. The attorney who drew the trust up agreed to do that for us, however, he became ill and is now in hospice. I have spoken to another attorney who looked the trust over and agreed it should be brought up to current tax laws. HIs fee was $1,700. Our total net worth is about $1.5 million. There is nothing in the trust that we wish to change. Is this a necessary expense?

I enjoy reading you column in the Sunday Tampa Bay Times.

Thank you.

Terry Says:

Yes, it’s probably a good idea.  Since nothing has to change in the trust in terms of what you plan to leave and to whom — and assuming that it was made in your current state of residence — that’s a slightly steep fee.  But it IS right in line for creating a new RLT, and this lawyer is likely going to have to do the same amount of work to bring yours up to date.

I guess, I’d ask for a discount since this is a revision  — but agree to pay if he won’t do it. Remember, you want a qualified attorney to do this because you won’t be around to fix things if a mistake is made!   Before meeting with him do sit down and review your current trust provisions, making sure that you still want to leave the same things to the same people, still want to use the same successor trustee in case both of you are unable to act, and that you don’t have new family members — ie., grandchildren — whom you want to remember after your death.  And that you have titled all your accounts — investments, homes, etc., in the name of the trust.

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