From the Forum – Looking to set up a Trust – any recommended lawyers that are registered in DC

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Looking to set up a Trust – any recommended lawyers that are registered in DC

“I just bought a condo and I am looking to set up a trust to protect it from probate in case anything ever happens to me.

Has anyone tried to set up a trust in DC? I looked at Legalzoom, but I would prefer to have a professional walk me through the process as long as the fees were reasonable.”

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17 Comment

  • Definitely consult a professional, but make sure that you’re not looking at trusts based on old misconceptions of estate tax law and probate procedure. If your condo is your only significant asset, you might find that a trust is a waste of your time and money. Setting them up and winding them down can be expensive and probate in DC isn’t that burdensome for most estates.

    • I do have other assets and I would like to use the trust to pass my assets along to my children some day. Any recommendations on professionals who are familiar with DC laws?

    • My condo is (basically) my only asset. Can I accomplish this with a will, or do I need to do something else to keep the red tape to a minimum for my beneficiary? (Thanks gwlom for asking the question! I’ve been wondering this myself!)

      • One problem with a trust is that the trust has to be terminated once the property is transferred. This is a pain and can get expensive for your beneficiary if there isn’t cash set aside. You’re better off with just a will or a Transfer on Death Deed as M points out below. I’d just go with a simple will, as a Transfer on Death Deed is recorded publicly and has to be re-recorded as your circumstances change (get married, divorced, have children, etc.). Personally, I prefer to keep my testamentary wishes private — or at least within my family.
        I used to practice law in a firm that did some estates work (I was mostly a litigator, though, and the estates lawyer has since retired) and the general feeling around the firm was that trusts were over-sold. There are people — primarily wealthy people or those who have complicated family situations — who really need them, but most average folks get scared by the very ideas of probate and the estate tax when in reality the estate tax exemptions are pretty high and probate is pretty streamlined these days and is a good idea anyway if there are creditors.

  • Many in DC may not know about the Transfer on Death Deed available in DC. These are not available in most states, but are here in DC. It is one form and you name beneficiaries for your property, then register it with the Office of Deeds. No need for the trust or the lawyer.

  • I did a will and trust combo in DC last year. The trust wasn’t related to real estate but rather cash, stocks, and other worldly possessions. It was a fairly simple process – a lawyer was recommended, we spoke and went over a few options and prices, and he sent me some forms to fill out. A few weeks later I reviewed and made comments on draft documents, then we executed.

    Not sure what you would consider reasonable, but I believe the total cost for everything I did was around $1500. It was not inexpensive but I considered it reasonable. There were a lot of moving parts and I was happy knowing a legal professional had arranged it all and that people will know when to pull the plug on me and how to divvy up my stuff when I’m gone.

    • Sorry, should have mentioned –

      Lawyer: Charles Abell
      Firm: Furey Doolan and Abell
      8401 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 1100
      Chevy Chase, MD 20815
      (301) 652-6880 (Main)

  • You could try Peter Antonoplos.

  • We used Gina Lynn on Penn in SE for our estate documents. Ours are a bit more complex due to have children, but she was easy to work with and very affordable.

  • I recently had some estate work done and had a great experience, very simple and straightforward process. Highly recommend the attorney and firm.
    Whitney Smith
    Alexander & Cleaver

  • Highly recommend:

    Wright & Batchelor
    1901 18th St NW

    I’m an attorney and was very happy with Don Wright’s work. He’s a real pro. He came recommended to me from another attorney who uses him on her T&E matters – and hers are even more complex than mine.


    Contact Randy or Lance; both do very good work. The firm has a lot of experience with trusts/estates and their prices are very reasonable.

  • if you lose at adjudication file at the superior court civil division for appeal. Petitioners often win.

    2028791133 For info on how to file

  • Eh, I used to work in a law firm that did this stuff. I’d just say that remember lawyers are trying to sell you something too — a trust makes a firm much better money than a standard will. The fact you’re asking this question on an internet forum suggests you maybe really don’t need a trust? If you were the sort of person who needs a trust, you’d have people in your social/professional circle (ie, neighbors at your vacation home, colleagues at your investment bank, etc.) with trusts who could give you a recommendation.

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