Estate Planning Cost: How Much Will You Pay?
Estate planning is the process of organizing your finances and property in order to make things easier for your loved ones after you die. This includes creating a will, setting up trusts, and naming executors and guardians for your children.
Why Do I Need to Plan For My Estate?
If you don’t have an up-to-date will and trust in place, the court will appoint someone to distribute your property according to state law. If you don’t have any family or loved ones who could take care of your dependents, then the state will decide where they will live and who will take care of them. This can be a costly and time-consuming process, so it’s important to plan for your estate ahead of time.
How Much Does It Cost to Plan For My Estate?
It’s also vital to know who is doing the work, what kind of plan you need, and the legal fees your estate planning attorney charges when attempting to budget for an attorney estate plan. Estate attorneys utilize a variety of pricing systems, so you may get a wide range of quotations depending on the attorney.
Attorneys can also charge by the hour. Hourly rates vary widely by the attorney’s level of experience, size of firm, or practice area.
Attorneys may charge a flat fee for services related to estate planning. A flat rate covers all aspects of creating an estate plan, including writing your will and trust, drafting custodial designations for any designated beneficiaries who are minors, and other documents.
Fees for Consulting Services
Some attorneys charge by the hour or flat fee for consulting or advising you on your estate plan or revising your estate plan.
Flat Fee Retainer
An attorney may require a retainer before she begins work, whether it is an hourly rate, flat fee , or per-project basis. A retainer is a deposit of money that covers a certain amount of work. If the attorney does not complete the agreed-upon work, the retainer may be refunded in part or in full.
Why Does Estate Planning Costs Differ?
The cost of estate planning can vary for a number of reasons. The complexity of your estate, the type of documents needed, and the attorney’s hourly rate are all factors that can affect the cost. The most inexpensive is a simple will written for about $150 to $200. A more complicated strategy, on the other hand, might cost upwards of $300 per hour. An estate plan is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. For example, if you own property in another state, then your estate may be subject to taxation by that state. In order to prepare an estate plan that will cover your assets and liabilities across multiple states, your attorney might charge more for the work. Regardless of cost, the most important thing is to have an up-to-date will or trust in place. This will ensure that your wishes are carried out after you die and that your loved ones are taken care of.
Ways to Save Money on the Costs of an Estate Plan
It is important to remember that the cost of estate planning can vary greatly, so it’s important to shop around for the best deal. You can also save money on the costs of an estate plan by taking some simple steps:
- Choose a General Practitioner or Lawyer Who Specializes in Estate Planning:
If you need estate planning documents beyond a simple will, then it’s important to work with an attorney who specializes in estate planning. A general practitioner may not have the experience necessary to handle your more complex strategy.
- Get Additional Documents at Reduced Rates:
Some attorneys offer a package deal for estate planning that includes a will, trust, and other documents. This can be a cost-effective way to get all the documents you need.
- Pay Upfront:
If your attorney requires a retainer before beginning work, paying upfront may reduce the overall cost of the estate plan.
- Request a Quote in Writing:
Many attorneys will provide a quote for their services in writing. This can help you to compare rates and services before making a decision.
The Benefits of Having an Up-To-Date Will and Trust in Place
Even if you can’t afford to pay for a full estate plan, it is still important to have a will or trust in place. This will ensure that your wishes are carried out after you die and that your loved ones are taken care of. A will allows you to name an executor who will be responsible for carrying out your final wishes after you die. You can also choose whether to give any of your assets directly to the people who are most important to you, rather than allowing them to be distributed according to state law. A trust, on the other hand, is a legal document that allows you to appoint a trustee or trustees who will be in charge of managing your assets for the benefit of those you name. You can also create a trust that will continue to manage your assets after you die, which makes it easier for loved ones to avoid probate.
The Bottom Line
The cost of estate planning can vary greatly, but it is important to have an up-to-date will or trust in place. Working with an experienced attorney can help ensure that your documents are tailored to your specific needs and that they will be effective after you die.
About the Author
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®
True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.
True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.