By Michael Rinne
Sue Farley has written a book about the "trust industry" titled "Trust - Are You Kidding? - Pitfalls of the Current Trust System Exposed". Her basic message is "Your money is not safe...if you have it in a trust." The book which is considered essential by some amateur critics on Amazon is a broad criticism of the U.S. trust industry. She addresses questions like "Do you know that no one oversees whether your trustee actually complies with the terms of your trust?" and outlines grievances within the trust business.
As an estate planning attorney in Sacramento I do not condemn this book, because it also criticises lawyers that help people to get their estate planning done. If there are serious cases of malpractice, it is good that somebody is speaking up against it. However, in my opinion there is no reason to generalise as much as Sue Farley does. Her criticism may apply to commercial "trust mills" but there is no reason to condemn the work of a diligent estate planning attorney.
Living trusts are an essential part of the U.S. legal system. Even though one may argue, the whole concept of having living trusts to pass assets to heirs is not the best system to have, it is fact that this system governs today's inheritance law to a large extent. Therefore there is no reason to generally condemn living trusts. The important thing is to navigate smoothly through the thick jungle of living trust's complex legal structure. This is where a diligent estate planning attorney can provide valuable assistance.