Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Pennsylvania

I settled my daughter's injury case against my own good faith judgment because my attorney threatened to withdraw. I told my attorney I want Fidelity or Vanguard to manage her trust for her future education and health needs. My lawyer told me they dont have a canned trust and will charge me 2000.00 to do a trust from scratch.

How I get rid of him or to pass this on to an attorney who understands/manages trust for a couple hundred dollars instead of $2000.00? Thank you.

Asked on 5/01/15, 9:13 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Miriam Jacobson Retired from practice of law

What makes you think you can find a lawyer who understands/manages trusts for a couple of hundred dollars? That's probably someone who is going to steal your money but charge you only a couple of hundred dollars to do it.

If your daughter is disabled to the point where she will be incapacitated for life, and require government assistance, look for a lawyer who specializes in government benefits and can prepare a Special Needs Trust for the settlement proceeds. You have the right to have that lawyer prepare the trust. Fidelity or Vanguard can manage the trust, if it fits the size of trust they manage. If it doesn't, there are organizations that provide trust services, such as The ARC Community Trust of Pennsylvania [google them].

You don't need to stay with your current lawyer, but you may direct her or him to discuss the trust with The ARC Community Trust of Pennsylvania and make it comply with Special Needs Trust requirements if you don't want to switch lawyers.

If she was not disabled to that extent, you have to keep in mind that banks and investment houses like Fidelity and Vanguard have minimum amounts in order to manage investments. Lawyers are not trained investment managers, so your instinct is correct to not allow the lawyer to manage the trust. Your lawyer may not be asking to manage the trust, only to prepare the trust document. Go back and find out exactly what the lawyer is charging you for. If you want, interview other recommended trust lawyers, then decide, and you may engage another lawyer to write the trust document, and give written instructions to your current lawyer to not write the trust document.


* If the answers to your question confirm that you have a valid issue or worthwhile claim, your next step should almost always be to establish a dialog with a lawyer who can provide specific advice to you. Contact a lawyer in your county or township.

* Another reason for contacting a lawyer is that it is often impossible to give a good answer in the Internet Q&A format without having more information. The unique circumstances of your situation and things that you may not have thought to mention in your question may completely change the answer. If you want to be sure that you have a complete answer to your question and an understanding of what that answer means, establish a connection with a lawyer who practices in the area of your concern.

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Answered on 5/02/15, 6:30 am

You need an attorney who specializes in drafting trusts. I am sorry, but $2000 is not unreasonable for a trust and probably will cost more if a special needs trust is drafted. You need an attorney who is familiar with these things not your personal injury attorney. So your $200 fee is totally unreasonable and unrealistic. Any attorney who charges that is not going to give you a competently drafted document.

You are also on the wrong track if you want to hire Fidelity or Vanguard to manage your money for you. Investment brokers charge a fee to manage assets. You do not indicate how much you have - these places want you have a minimum of $50,000 invested or more. And the will charge a fee for this. There are professional money managers who are worth the fee if you have money like this to invest. They can hold your assets inside funds at Fidelity or Vanguard and grow the money so it is not outlived by your daughter.

Don't be cheap here trying to save a few bucks because you are going to end up spending more to fix problems that get created. Spend wisely, not foolishly on someone who is competent. You need 2 professionals - estate planning attorney to draft the trust or special needs trust and a certified financial planner or investment fund manager to manage the investments.

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Answered on 5/02/15, 8:44 am

I agree 100% with Ms. Jacobson and Ms Hunter. If you are in Philadelphia, you should contact Ms. Jacobson. If you are in Montgomery County, feel free to contact me.

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Answered on 5/02/15, 8:57 am

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