Last Updated: 05/03/2017
These Two Choices Are Best for Drafting Trust Documents

Who Should I Use?

You have these two choices...

Licensed Arizona Lawyer

LawyerYou can use a lawyer if you like. And you can pay a higher rate per hour for the work performed in most cases.  One problem I have noticed in the past 10 years or so of my practice is that many lawyer prepared documents are not embracing large IRA accounts in their actual documents delivered.

So, if you use a lawyer you will want to be sure you find a qualified attorney who includes proper qualified plan language in your documents, if you have a larger retirement plan or IRA type plan.

Also if you desire legal advice, such as how to protect your assets against a pending lawsuit or divorce, while drafting new legal estate planning documents, only choosing the "Lawyer" option will fulfill your needs and you should secure proper legal advisory for that purpose.

Or, you may be the type that demands lawyer prepared documents no matter what.  If that describes you, just be sure your chosen barrister is qualified to assist you in funding your trust, not just in creating it.

Funding assistance is limited in law firms and many trusts later fail because the strict instructions required for funding is mandatory for the trust to succeed and avoid probate here in Arizona.

Personally, I need more than two hands of fingers to count all the lawyer prepared trusts brought to me that "failed" due to failure to properly fund the trusts and keep the funding up to date right up to the date of death.  Read about one of those cases, which was for a very famous lady of the 1950's.  I was allowed to represent her estate as "agent" to market her personal possessions to a nationwide audience after her death.

Since the largest two assets most estates have are the equity in their home and an IRA type retirement account, I am a licensed Realtor and a licensed insurance agent (and a nationally known retirement consultant) that directly allows me to draft important custom provisions in my trusts created for clients as well as assist directly in the funding process, after your new or updated trust is signed.

Licensed Non-Lawyer AZCLDP*

* Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer

My firm is a "non lawyer" paralegal firm which just means simply that I do not practice law or give legal advice, but I do prepare legal documents.  My Legacy Trust Portfolio is nearly 275 pages (married version), and would cost about $3,500 if prepared at the same professional level by a brand name Phoenix or Scottsdale law firm. The free funding services I give away at no cost (complimentary funding no matter how long it takes) and the complimentary gifts all new trust portfolio clients receive - also most likely will not be part of a lawyer prepared trust portfolio.  The value of having your trust consultant help you, step by step, and assist you in funding your trust, must be considered in your total costs.

Important Point:  Without proper funding help, your trust will most likely go through probate, no matter how much you pay for it!

Any trust we create for you, provides modern provisions for foreign travel or residency issues. And national travel or residency issues (2nd homes).  I also address the common situation of having financial records on a computer hard drive and authorize the spousal Trustee and subsequent Successor Trustee to use modern electronic means to administer the estate.  Recent talk about handling Facebook or Twitter type accounts after death is also covered in our newest edition!

FSI's portfolio of documents includes new Arizona Trust Code (ATC), HIPPA release (health information and privacy act) provisions, and follow all Arizona statutes where applicable in the individual documents making up the complete portfolio. And new federal 2013 estate tax provisions are carefully drafted in all new or update trusts my firm creates and delivers, for maximum protection against the federal estate tax due upon death for larger estates. Medicaid planning options for smaller estates is also covered.

If you are price shopping, be sure to compare "like kind" or you heirs may be disappointed in any bargain plan you put in force. You could also pay a fortune for a trust from a popular firm - yet not get your money's worth. I see trusts fail every month in my consulting work right along with their IRA getting hit with bad options all because the wrong advisors were trusted and failed to deliver what they promised.

Growing up in Iowa, I found out many years ago that most cheap things are not good and that most good things are not cheap.  As you shop, knowing you may look at "price" alone as your gauge, I want to give you the proper high standards my product is under, compared to competitors -- so you can compare fairly.   (National and local Arizona clients who have lost a loved one find large IRA accounts must pay the trust as beneficiary, which often is outdated and almost always, does not contain proper IRS rules language to handle the funds properly)

Believe me, I have seen in my practice when people die -- what was cheap in the way of estate planning documents on this end of life can become the most expensive on the other end.  It is like a double slap in the face of the heirs, when that happens.

Still Undecided Between a Lawyer and an AZCLDP?

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?So, what about finding someone else to do this work? Well, that is why I am giving away free information to help you decide who is best for your situation.

This is so you can make a good decision on who you employ to do your estate planning documents.

Just like the chicken undecided on crossing the road -- timing may be everything for you to make the right decision. I have had prospective clients reject what I do by putting me off until later. I understand that. Timing needs to be right. Sadly, I also find that those who put it off indefinitely just don't care that much about their surviving loved ones! This is both sad and disastrous.

But, if you are now looking at doing this work, please look outside yourself in this area of your finances, because just one mistake or absent clause, or wrong state statute can not only cost money to fix later. It could cost a lot of pain and aggravation as well on your surviving family members. If you become disabled or die with imperfect legal document, someone suffers. That could be your spouse, your children, your grandchildren -- or if you don't have a direct family; all of your heirs and survivors, whoever they may be.

What I have found practicing in this area here in Arizona since 1991 is that the cost of an Arizona version of a living trust is no indicator of quality. I have helped clients amend, and in some rare cases -- revoke  -- many attorney prepared documents, as well as many that were written by non-lawyers.  In 2003, "certification" was required by new state statutes for all Arizona domiciled document preparers. In essence, this requirement "legitimized" the work many of us trail blazer non-lawyers had done for many years prior to the change in law. 

The documents I re-wrote for document clients who did business with the wrong firm in the past, corrected simple mistakes and added needed Arizona  statutes. Some new residents bring their legal documents with them when they move here and it is pretty well known in the legal community that an update is in order. If your old Iowa trust is to adopt Arizona statutes and embrace Arizona as the controlling trust state, it is good to understand that an amendment may be in order to change it and adopt the proper "community property" rules as well. 

And, it is also general knowledge to all legal document preparers who do estate planning documents, that the state of residence is usually controlling for empowerment of the acting Trustee, even if he or she is different than the Trustor (trust maker).  The point is that maybe the document should update whenever the Trustee or Trustor change their state of residence. This happens more often than you might think.  I can count at least 15-20 or more active living trust clients in my files that have moved away from Arizona! (And a few that came back!)

Particular to Arizona laws, what a husband and wife accumulate or earn here in Arizona while married is their "community" property assets, meaning each spouse owns a 1/2 interest regardless of how the asset is titled, or who earns it in the case of current earned income. Now, you can also have "separate" assets too, which means you haven't put the other spouse's name on an account you owned prior to your marriage. Or, it could remain separate property when you have inherited money or property and have titled those assets as your "sole and separate" property, and you haven't added your spouse to the title or account, since you received your inheritance.

One of our former Governors found out that "commingling" even a simple bank account (his wife's) can be disastrous. (Yes, it's the one who says he believes in UFO's) Now, if you are in a position where you are either in or threatened by a lawsuit, divorce, or known potential capital loss situation, you should use a lawyer and pay the going rate to get a legal opinion on what estate legal documents you need, and of course to just have legal representation during any time of legal conflict.

But, if your life is "normal", and your marriage is "good" (if married), and no one is about to sue you -- an Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer may very well be all you need to accomplish your estate document planning goals and still have plenty of money left in your savings account when it is all done!

After all, I personally take many of the exact same legal "continued education" courses the lawyers have to take here in Arizona. (AZCLDP'S take 2/3rds the required CLE hours lawyers must take) I always have to be sure my general information and knowledge including this content you are reading, as well as my specific documents -- are up to date.  There is plenty of scrutiny by administrative boards that govern my license, to be sure I practice ethically and legally. (A committee under the Arizona Supreme Court governs AZCLP's)

Just be sure if you want or need to use an Arizona lawyer to draft your estate planning documents, that you do business with a firm that agrees to notify you of any and all state and federal law changes. Some offer these services, and yet are not as active as they could be in getting back in touch with you when the laws change.  If either the client or the lawyer ignores the original work done in estate planning documents, it can easily lead to a probate on partial estate assets that never got funded into the Living Trust. 

The biggest problem I have seen recently is the failure of mortgage companies or title companies to put a property back "in trust" after a refinancing is complete.  (Some still make you take your home out of trust to be able to refinance it).  Always check your last recorded deed and make sure it bears your trust's name, if your refinanced with a living trust owning your main home.

About 14 years ago, a property in the Ahwatukee foothills area was found out of trust.  The value of that home at the time was pushing a million dollars! Luckily, nothing had happened and I discovered the mistake during a document update session for the client and got it corrected. It was the mortgage company and title companies fault who had agreed to put it back in trust after the new loan closed.  They forgot...

The last time it happened was for a deceased trust estate owner who did not have a trust drafted by my firm, but his son was referred to me after losing his father. Though his single father had an active living trust prior to his death, it was found out of trust at the point of sale after his death.  I was hired to assist the heir in preparing his probate documents.

The problem in that case was discovered by a simple title search that the last major bank who had done a "re-fi" on the home "assumed" the house was in trust and never really checked!  It was one of those loan by phone deals.  The client most likely did not know his home was not in trust prior to his death.  Originally it was funded into the trust, but another re-fi  company took it out and never assisted after the loan closing to deed it back! 

These kind of mistakes yield some pretty large fees for law firms in the long run. Even if it isn't intentional, it obviously happens by default. All you have to do is ask what a prospective law firms' trust update policy is. If they don't have one, maybe you should look elsewhere!

So, if you need or want a lawyer for this important work, just take a few minutes to research a referral, or find a referral by visiting the state bar website:


The committee that governs AZCLDP's is still quite busy trying to police the un-certified rogues who still practice illegally here in Arizona without certification as document preparers.  Be sure you ask anyone talking about doing this work for you if they are authorized.  If they say they use a  lawyer to prepare the documents you get, ask for a written confirmation of this and for the supervision program they are under.  Not from them -- but from the lawyer they quote who prepares the documents.  If they don't have one...maybe you are looking the wrong direction again.

A link is provided so you can also read up on the supervising authority who supervises me and all other AZCLDP's here in Arizona:  


  O.K. This is The Horn Section

Disclaimer:  To gain your trust, I am going to do a little more tooting of my own horn.  If this bothers you, please skip to the next section!

I can say up front that few other Arizona based "non lawyers" possess the depth of knowledge that I have gained over the years, especially in the multiple financial services that I practice in.  I maintain multiple licensing also in insurance and real estate to be able to provide a package of services few others offer. 

Also, be sure to read the testimonials at the bottom of this page on my services from active clients so that you can fully grasp the difference in my level of service to clients versus most other firms operating here in Arizona.

So many seem like they could care less about you after you do business with them. In contrast, my ongoing service to clients shows l only care MORE.  Just read my client testimonials and you will see the difference. I am an advisor who will pamper you and help watch out for you -- watch over you as much as is legally possible, and do so year after year.  That's the type of advisor I am. I watch your back for you.

And, I also want to invite those with incomplete estate planning portfolios or that have out of date documents to explore this information fully, so you can discover why a trust update may be in order. My firms' professional document preparation services are designed for all levels of your financial and estate planning needs.

To read what my clients think of me, CLICK HERE (just hit your back button on your mouse to come back!)  I have created this site as a free information service to you.

This is your opportunity to tap into what I know, with one main goal: to help you better understand these legal instruments so you can take action. In my experience, most people who procrastinate in regards to their estate planning legal documents will experience major problems down the road. I will always be sure to keep the most up to date information on this site so you will want to mark it as a "favorite" in your internet browser. This way you can come back and read the updates from time to time.

And, if after reading the information -- you find it helpful -- please send out a few introduction e-mails to your other advisors, friends, relatives; in fact anyone you really care about. This way they can get a good understanding of what a professional Living Trust can do for them, without any pressure from some local marketing person. Trusts are not for everyone. Just those who have adequate current assets or large life insurance payouts or special needs -- so that funding can be done. (Funding just means you transfer your assets into the trust once it is created, or when you die in the case of a life insurance beneficiary claim payout.)

It is my sincere hope that once you read up on this subject, you would then take the necessary action to draft these documents with a qualified firm and not put it off any longer. Yes, I would love to have you as my new client, if you desire my personalized services and favorable pricing. But, if you have a good relationship with a qualified attorney, I still must urge you to put together your own portfolio with him or her if possible.

If you don't currently have an attorney or Certified Legal Document Preparer (AZCLDP) for these purposes, be sure to click on the  PRICING GUIDE to review the complete package costs or to actually order YOUR UPDATE OR NEW TRUST PORTFOLIO online. 

NOTE: I give an additional 10% discount for all "internet" orders received and paid online!


25+ Years of Practice Shows in the "Legacy Trust" Custom Trust Portfolio

Financial Strategies, Inc. celebrated it's 25th corporate year doing business in Arizona in 2015! (July 4th!!!), I am proud to have delivered hundreds of trust portfolios to Arizona consumers.  All without one complaint ever!  In fact, no professional complaints in multiple states of practice have ever been filed in my multiple financial occupations or practice for all 40+ years of total practice!  


Disclaimer: The information contained on this site, though deemed reliable and accurate, is solely the opinion and statements of the advisor profiled. Therefore, it should be considered "general" in nature and no action should be taken based on this information until such time your specific situation and circumstances can be reviewed and analyzed by competent and qualified tax, insurance, legal, and/or other financial advisors. This information is not intended, nor should be construed as legal advice. FSI can not and will not give you legal advice. If you need legal advice, we can refer you if you desire and request it. Founded in 1990, FSI is a long-term Financial Advisory and Arizona domiciled Corporation now providing services nationwide and in some foreign countries. Services profiled herein are available unrestricted to Arizona residents. Residents outside of Arizona are eligible for certain consulting services and to legal (lawyer) referrals by our firm when requested of us. For Arizona residents, communication with an Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer (AZCLDP) are private and confidential but are not "privileged", such as they would be with an actual Lawyer.

Besides being a licensed  Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer, Mr. Anderson is also an Arizona Professional Accountant/Consultant  and registered IRS tax preparer and ERO (Electronic Return Originator) agent/firm. He also is an Arizona licensed Professional (Realtor)/consultant (with Realty One Group) and a licensed Professional insurance agent and corporation for life, health or annuity sales. Lastly, he and his firm is an appointed representative for Royal Metals Group as a Professional Precious Metals consultant and sales advisor. 

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