How much does it cost to set up a trust?
Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to set up a trust?

Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to set up a trust?

$1,000 – $7,000total average cost (with an attorney)
$100 – $600total average cost (DIY)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$1,000 – $7,000 total average cost (with an attorney)

$100 – $600 total average cost (DIY)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Jennifer Carlson
Written by
Jennifer Carlson
Edited by
Tamatha Hazen
Fact-checked by
Kristen Cramer

Average cost to set up a trust

The average cost to set up a trust is $1,000 to $7,000 with a lawyer, depending on their experience level, your estate’s complexity, whether you’re married, and whether the trust is living or irrevocable. The cost to create a trust yourself is $100 to $600 with online trust companies.

Average cost to set up a trust
Method Average total cost
With an attorney $1,000 – $7,000
DIY online program $100 – $600

  • A trust fund is a legal arrangement that appoints an individual called a trustee to manage the grantor’s assets and distribute them to beneficiaries according to their instructions. It may also include burial instructions, power of attorney, and health care instructions.

  • A trust costs more than a will but allows the estate to pass directly to heirs instead of going through probate court. This saves time, keeps your affairs private, and can reduce taxes paid on the estate.

Setting up a trust with an attorney {#attorney}

Most attorneys charge $1,000 to $7,000 to create a trust, or more for very complex estates. The average hourly rate for a lawyer is $150 to $400, depending on their experience level.

Experienced attorneys charge about $300 to $400 per hour, while junior associates charge $150 to $250 per hour but make take longer to complete the work. Ask your attorney about how long they take to create trusts if you’re feeling uneasy about hourly rates.

DIY online program

Creating a trust with an online program costs $100 to $600, depending on whether you’re creating one individually or with a spouse. These programs cost much less than hiring an attorney and may include access to a lawyer if you need help during the process.

However, individuals with complex estates should consider hiring an attorney to ensure the trust is set up correctly.

Get free estimates from estate attorneys near you.

Cost to create a trust by type

A living trust is an estate planning tool established while you’re still alive and comes in two types: revocable and irrevocable. You can modify revocable trusts after creating one, but irrevocable trusts are extremely hard to change after the fact.

Cost to create a living trust
Trust type Average total cost
Revocable $1,500 – $7,000
Irrevocable $1,000 – $6,000


A revocable trust costs $1,500 to $7,000 and can be changed at any time. You can remove or add beneficiaries and modify how you manage your assets. Revocable trusts can help people get their affairs in order, especially if they have a fatal disease or debilitating illness.

However, revocable trusts do not shield assets from creditors, lawsuits, or estate taxes like irrevocable trusts do. This type of trust can also distribute a specific amount of money at regular intervals or when minor beneficiaries come of age.


Irrevocable trusts cost $1,000 to $6,000 on average. Once you sign the paperwork, your terms are set in stone and are very hard to modify afterward. The main benefit of choosing an irrevocable trust is the tax benefits: the beneficiary will not owe any estate taxes. Guarantor trusts also protect beneficiaries from income taxes.

This type of trust also protects your assets from lawsuits and creditors, which is particularly useful if you’re a doctor or lawyer. However, irrevocable trusts are harder to set up and almost always require an attorney.

Cost factors for setting up a trust

The following factors affect the cost to set up a trust:

  • Location: Attorneys in urban areas typically have higher rates than in rural areas. Domestic U.S. trusts cost less than offshore trusts. Assets in offshore trusts are safer because they’re not subject to the same laws or court rulings.

  • Experience level: Senior law firm members tend to charge more than junior associates. However, experienced attorneys often work faster, which can make up for higher rates.

  • Complexity: Most attorneys charge per hour to set up a trust. The more complex your estate or the more assets you have, the longer it will take.

  • Fees: On top of legal and drafting fees, you may pay an annual commission fee from any investments if your lawyer is your trustee.

  • Taxes: Your estate or beneficiaries could be subject to the following taxes:

    • Estate taxes: Your estate will trigger federal estate taxes if it’s worth over $13.61 million for individuals or $27.22 million for couples. Any assets over that amount are taxed at a rate of 18% to 40%. Some states also charge estate taxes separately.

    • Inheritance taxes: Nebraska, Iowa, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey levy inheritance taxes on beneficiaries. Spouses and some relatives are exempt from inheritance taxes.

    • Capital gains/income taxes: Some assets generate income, which can trigger taxes for whoever legally owns it.

Other types of trusts

Most trusts are fairly straightforward and consist of assets that pass directly to beneficiaries upon the grantor’s death. However, some uncommon types of grants are appropriate in certain circumstances:

  • Special needs trusts, which specifically manage assets on behalf of heirs with disabilities.

  • Trusts that skip generations and transfer money to younger descendants.

  • Blind trusts, which handle assets without notifying any public officials.

  • Testamentary trusts, or will trusts, become effective after the grantor’s death, and follow the stipulations in their will. Property passes into the trust based on the will and still goes through probate court.

Trust vs. will

Writing a will costs $300 to $1,000+ with an attorney. A will explains how you want to distribute assets after your death. A trust is more complex and covers assets as well as power of attorney. Wills help provide guardianship for minor children, but trusts do not.

Unless your estate falls below a minimum threshold of value, which is about $50,000 in many states, it is subject to probate court. If you have a larger estate, you may want to create a trust, which typically includes a will.

Trusts vs. wills
Factor Trust Will
Cost $1,000 – $7,000* $300 – $1,000*
Best for People who want to manage assets before they die, reduce taxes, or avoid probate People with dependents or specific end-of-life wishes
Process Complex with more paperwork Simple and straightforward
Taxes Irrevocable trusts protect against taxes and creditors Don’t avoid taxes
Privacy More private and less likely to be contested Public probate can be contested

*With an attorney

Get free estimates from estate attorneys near you.
A lawyer meeting with clients to set up a trust
A lawyer meeting with clients to set up a trust

Pros and cons of trusts

Trusts are more time-consuming and expensive than wills and may come with annual fees for complex estates. However, they can help reduce estate taxes and keep your family’s assets out of probate court.

Pros and cons of trusts
Pros Cons
  • Help keep your assets out of probate court
  • Irrevocable trusts have tax advantages
  • Helps settle affairs before you die or become incapacitated
  • Expensive to set up
  • Complex recordkeeping and paperwork
  • Not all trusts protect assets from lawsuits
  • May have a higher income tax rate

How do I set up a trust?

Get free estimates from estate attorneys near you.

An attorney or online program can help guide you through the specifics of setting up a trust by following these steps:

  1. Choose the type of trust that fits your needs best.

  2. Decide which assets to include in the trust. This could include cash, stock or bonds, mutual funds, real estate, life insurance policies, and any other property.

  3. Decide which beneficiaries will receive which assets.

  4. Choose a responsible adult trustee to manage the trust and assets. This could be a friend, family member, bank, trust company, or attorney. You can appoint yourself as the initial trustee and someone else as a successor trustee when you die.

  5. Work with an attorney or advisor to carefully prepare the trust documents.

FAQs about creating a trust {#faq}

Can you set up a trust without an attorney?

You can set up a trust without an attorney by using online trust programs if your assets aren’t too complicated and you’re setting up a revocable trust. Irrevocable trusts and estates with complicated assets usually need an attorney, even though that route is more expensive.

Why set up a trust?

Setting up a trust has many benefits, including:

  • More control over the way you distribute assets

  • Avoiding probate, which is a public, lengthy, expensive process

  • Possible tax benefits for irrevocable trusts

Remember to weigh the advantages of a trust against the cost and difficulty of setting it up and maintaining it. Ask a lawyer for a consultation to help you decide if a trust is the right choice for you.

How long does it take to set up a trust?

The time it takes to set up a trust varies widely. A simple trust with cash assets only may take just a few minutes. A complex estate with real estate, financial accounts, or uncommon stipulations could take several weeks.

What assets shouldn’t be in a trust?

Having a trust is a great way for people to protect and pass on money, real estate, and property. However, you shouldn’t include these things in your trust:

  • HSAs or medical savings accounts use tax-free funds and can’t be transferred into a trust.

  • Retirement accounts like a 401(k), IRA, 403(b), or annuities require a withdrawal to put into a trust, which means you or your beneficiaries would owe income tax.

  • Any active accounts that you use to pay monthly expenses should be kept out of a trust unless you’re the trustee and control the trust’s assets.

Getting estimates from attorneys

When looking for a trust company or attorney near you, follow these steps:

  • Compare several estimates from respectable lawyers.

  • Examine attorney reviews on Lawful and Google.

  • Confirm their credentials and ask if they've passed the bar exam.

  • Pick an attorney who makes you feel comfortable.

  • Select one who’s conveniently located if possible.

  • Ask for a contract in writing.

Questions to ask an attorney

Ask these questions to help you choose a reputable lawyer that fits your needs:

  • How long have you been a practicing attorney?

  • Did you pass the bar exam? How long ago?

  • Do you charge for initial consultations?

  • How much experience do you have setting up trusts?

  • Would a revocable or irrevocable trust work best for me?

  • What are your hourly rates?

  • How long should it take to create this trust?

  • Will you give me an estimate and contract in writing?