An estate plan is a comprehensive package that includes a living trust and all attendant documents. This is important to protect your preferences for your treatment should you become sick or incapacitated and for the care of your minor children (if you have any) and the disbursement of your property should you pass away. Having an estate plan with a living trust is the best way to preserve your wishes and protect your family from an expensive and time consuming experience in the probate court.
If a family member passes away without a trust, then his or her estate must go through the probate court. If you have been named executor in the will or have been appointed by the court to administer the estate (if there is no will), then you will need an attorney to represent you in these proceedings. Note that attorneys fees in this case are set by statute and are taken out of the estate, rather than paid by you directly.
If a family member passes away with a trust, then the decedent's wishes, as laid out in the trust, will need to be followed. If you have been named as Trustee, then you will need an attorney to help administer the terms of the trust.