The Cost of Estate Planning

Estate Planning Documents
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Death is inevitable. Some people dread even thinking about it, while others prepare for a day when they’re no longer among the living. One of the ways individuals can prepare for death is by estate planning. Estate planning involves task preparation aimed at managing a person’s assets should they die or become incapacitated. The process of planning involves bequeathing assets to heirs and a settlement of the taxes of the estate. 

Preparation of a will depends on the state of your residence. If you live in Texas, you would need the guidance of an Estate planning attorney The Woodlands. If you are from New York, you may consult an estate planning attorney from Queens, as they are more knowledgeable about laws covering estate planning in that state. 

Some individuals put off estate planning because of the fear of the cost of what they have to pay their lawyers. Lawyers may charge a few hundred to several thousand dollars to prepare your will and set up other documents. Attorney’s fees are usually not listed on their website because the cost is different for every individual. They have to sit down and talk to you to identify your needs or wants. 

Still, estate planning has tons of benefits for you, mainly protecting your family wealth and reducing transfer tax burdens. Before you get frustrated with costs, take a look at how lawyers charge so you can have a better understanding of the legal fees when it comes to estate planning. 

Flat Fees

Most lawyers charge their clients a flat fee for writing a will and preparing other estate planning documents. A lawyer-drafted will can cost you around $300, however some lawyers can charge $1,000 to $1,200.

When you choose to pay a flat fee, expect that you will get a standard form. These forms are based on an existing template, which the lawyer will edit into a document that includes a list of the client’s last wishes. Since it doesn’t take much time to assemble your documents, the fee is low to pay for their expertise. Flat fees mean that they do not keep track of the amount of time spent with you. 

Some lawyers prefer a flat fee arrangement because it is much less hassle. It also creates a better attorney-client relationship since both of you will not be focused on the amount of time spent conversing.

Hourly Billing

Some estate planning attorneys charge their clients by the hour. The rate per hour depends on the lawyer’s expertise and training, and the state that they practice in. If you are from a rural area, you can find a lawyer who will charge $150 per hour. However, if you live in a city where lawyers work in big firms, expect to shell out more than that. You also have to note that specialty lawyers are much more expensive, but can provide you with more sophisticated and efficient estate planning than a general attorney. Some lawyers charge in six-minute increments. These increments mean that you don’t have to pay your lawyer if the time spent with them is less than six minutes. 

Estate Planning Packages

More than preparing a will, an attorney that specializes in estate planning can help you with other estate planning documents such as: 

  • Power of Attorney for Finances
  • Advance Directive

These documents are equally important as it means giving someone the authority to act on your behalf should you develop a disability. If you ask your lawyer for this, they may ask for additional fees. 

Lawyers may also advise you to have a living trust. Living trusts avoid delay of probate court proceedings and associated expenses after your death. The requirement for living trust depends on the state that you live in. It also depends on your ownership of the assets and your age. For example, if you own several properties jointly with your spouse, a trust is not necessary.

Some attorneys charge higher fees for drafting a living trust. The cost can set you back around $1,200 to $1,500 for a trust. Remember, once you have signed away your properties, that’s it. For a living trust, it is much more complicated. You may need to change the titles of your assets to the individuals you want to entrust them to. Ask your lawyer if the fee includes funding the trust. If not, it is your responsibility to accomplish this task. 

The Bottom Line

Estate planning is a complicated and emotional process. Some of your family members may not agree with the decisions that you’re making. Nonetheless, it is a must to have a will — not for you, but for the ones who will be left behind. Since estate planning involves legalities, it is always best practice to consult with an estate planning attorney before making any significant and life-changing decision. They are the ones who can help you plan your legacy. The sooner you can have your estate planning in place, the better. In the end, your family will thank you for it.

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