CGA Law News & Blog

LIVING TRUSTS – Are they worth the extra cost?

access_time Posted on: March 13th, 2024

From Attorney Tim Bupp, chair of the CGA Law Firm Estate Law section.

In this biweekly column, Attorney Tim Bupp shares with you lessons and perspectives from his twenty-five years as an estate planner with CGA Law Firm.

I am asked about the potential benefits of living trusts nearly every day. My answer: in specific situations, a living trust can provide clarity and benefit to your estate plan. However, as with nearly every other estate planning tool, one size does not fit all; not everyone will benefit from the extra effort and expense that go into creating and maintaining such a trust. 

1.       What is a living trust? A living trust is an alternative to a Will, in which you hold your assets as a trustee and set forth specific instructions for how the assets should be handled in the future. A living trust might hold real estate or other special assets and describe in detail how those assets will be invested or distributed in the event of your incapacity or death. When set up correctly, a living trust can provide clear instructions to your children or agent on how to control assets in a way that is superior to the general instructions provided in a power of attorney.

2.       Is a living trust for you? In certain circumstances, living trusts can be extremely beneficial. They’re especially useful when a beneficiary has special needs; careful planning can be provided in the trust to protect such a beneficiary. Living trusts can provide privacy when that is an issue, or it can be practical to “freeze” an estate plan upon the passing of a first spouse. However, without such pressing issues, upgrading to a living trust with its accompanying expense may create more cost than benefit. This is truly a situation where caution is called for.

3.       What issues should you look out for? Beware of ads that offer you a free steak dinner at a local restaurant, provided you listen to someone’s pitch for a living trust or other estate planning techniques. Those so-called “free” meals are often offered to lure you into a meeting with a non-local huckster who wants to sell you a bill of goods. Remember, there’s no such thing as a free lunch! Those so-called free meals can cost you thousands of dollars when a seller persuades you to sign up for living trust planning you won’t benefit from. If you feel your circumstances warrant a living trust, discuss with a reputable, experienced attorney who will give you good advice and then stand behind their services.

Tim Bupp has practiced for twenty-five years with CGA Law Firm in estate planning, estate administration, and elder law. Tim is an Accredited Estate Planner (AEP) by the American Association of Estate Planning Councils and a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys. He is certified in Estate Planning and in Pension Law Planning by the Temple University Beasley School of Law, from which he also holds an LL.M degree in Tax Law. He also holds a JD from the Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law, an MBA from York College of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State. Tim is a shareholder at CGA Law Firm, where he has chaired the Estate Law Section of CGA Law Firm for the last ten years. Reach Tim at [email protected] or 717.848.4900. 

CGA Law Firm Attorney Tim Bupp

Timothy Bupp

Estate Law Chair, Shareholder

Timothy J. Bupp is a Shareholder with CGA Law Firm and chairs the Firm’s Estate Law Section. He provides clients with specialized advice in Estate Planning, Business and tax planning, Real Estate transactions and related matters. Tim assists his clients by utilizing the knowledge he gained from his advanced degrees in business administration, business taxation, and law, as well as his certifications in estate planning and employee benefits taxation.

Read Tim’s Bio Page in full HERE.