What Does Estate Planning Cost?

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Estate planning is as an investment in the future of you and your family. It is not a commodity that should be judged by price alone. By way of comparison, your local police department probably doesn’t shop for the cheapest bulletproof vests it can find for its officers. The emphasis rather is on quality and whether or not it will accomplish what it is intended to accomplish.

Your specific investment will depend on many factors including the nature and extent of your assets, your personal goals and objectives, and the experience and qualifications of the attorney you select. The investment in a good estate plan is money well spent. Most people don’t think twice about spending several thousand dollars on an automobile. For the most part, that multi-thousand dollar automobile is not worth a lot after a few years.

Good estate planning, on the other hand, yields benefits beyond your lifetime, and through subsequent generations of your family. It allows you to protect yourself and everything you own for the benefit of everyone you love. In addition, it is not uncommon for a good estate plan to save millions of dollars in taxes and administrative expenses for clients and their families.

The fees you pay will vary according to the complexity of your affairs, and to some extent, your geographic location. Prices tend to be higher in big cities than rural areas. They tend to be higher with very large firms than with smaller boutique firms. At the time of this writing, if you are single and have no children, a simple will, durable power of attorney and healthcare directive might cost from $300 to
$1500.

If you are married with minor children the cost for both spouses combined might be from $1000 to $4000. If you have a taxable estate, or own a business, you may need multiple trusts, a variety of entities, and gifting strategies, and the cost could be $10,000 to $50,000 or more. The only way to know for sure what your plan will cost is to consult with an estate planning attorney. Most will provide a fixed fee quote or a not-to-exceed cost established up front before any work begins, and many offer a free initial consultation so that you can get answers to your questions about cost and process before you spend any money.

There is one final thing to remember about costs. In every estate plan of every type and every level of sophistication, there are actually three costs:

1. The upfront costs of counseling and plan creation,
2. The cost to keep the plan up to date (or the larger cost of failing to do so), and
3. The cost of plan administration after your death.

Be sure to ask about ALL the costs involved!