Trust but Verify


Do you remember who first said the words, “Trust, but verify?”  It was Ronald Reagan in 1986 when he was negotiating with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. (Actually he said it to him many times)  We naturally want to believe that people are honest and trustworthy.  In my many years of estate planning I have experienced that trust alone can be both costly and painful.   Always verify your cost, but don’t forget to ask about the extras. For example, if you are setting up a Will ask about the future cost if a change is needed down the road.  Some firms will allow the first 60 to 90 days after final delivery to make no cost changes.  What if their is a significant family event in 3 or 4 years? (The prodigal son returns!) What would a Codicil cost to make a change?  If an attorney is going to settle your estate, ask if their cost will be a flat fee (a percentage) or an hourly rate. Make sure you understand how the process will unfold.  Ask questions like, “Will the probate court be required?”  “Are their legal deadlines that must be met?” “Can we receive updates or call with our questions and if so, what are the cost?”  Make sure that you receive a complete and detailed list of every expense in the process.  Many of my clients are using a Trust to pass on their estates.  I’ll share some basics about a Trust in a future post. I have worked with a wide variety of legal professionals, and like every profession, some are good and others well … (I’m going to keep this posted PG) I’ll stand with Ronny on this one; “Trust, but verify.”

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