How Much Does Estate Planning Cost?

estate planning documents

As with any services supplied by a law office, estate planning costs money. Some attorneys charge an hourly rate, while some charge a flat fee.

When you enter into the process of creating your estate plans, how much might it cost?

The main caveat to bear in mind is that each estate is different. Each estate’s needs are unique. And while estate planning documents cost money to produce, doing so in a legally-binding way will save your heirs a great deal of money and worry once those documents are called into use.

What Are The Costs For Estate Planning Services?

Here are four differentiating factors that will affect the price of estate planning services.

  1. How Many Beneficiaries are there?

Are you married? Have you been married before – and if so, were you married multiple times? Do you have children? Do you have stepchildren? Do you have nieces, nephews, or grandchildren that you want to include in your Will?

This may seem like a simple set of questions. And, in truth, it is. The number of beneficiaries, however, does impact the amount of work required to compose and prepare these documents. The complexity of your heirs’ situations may also affect the number of documents you truly need to create. It also may complicate the designation of beneficiaries on life insurance policies, retirement plans, investment accounts, and all other types of assets you wish to bequeath to them.

  1. How Large is the Estate?

How diversified are you? If you have a wide range of assets of different types, that is great for the future of your portfolio. It also can add to the amount of work required to draft your estate planning documents. Real estate holdings, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and retirement accounts all factor into the equation, and can make for a more complicated estate plan.

While larger and more complex estates require more time and effort to plan, the investment is well worth every penny. Avoiding legal entanglements with the execution of your estate can save your estate tens of thousands of dollars. Having a clear, legally binding set of estate plan documents can avoid any such challenge.

  1. Will You Create a Trust?

Not every estate calls for a trust. There are, though, many determining factors that may lead you and your attorney to build trusts for your children or other heirs. The desire to protect assets from taxation – or from creditors – can necessitate financial instruments like trusts.

  1. How Many Documents in Total will you Need?

Generally, most people require a Last Will and Testament, an advanced directive for healthcare (i.e. what will happen if you become incapacitated), and a durable power of attorney. Those three documents exist in nearly every set of estate plans.

Other parts of an estate plan may include beneficiary designations for life insurance and for 401(k) plans. You may need to establish a trust, as discussed earlier.

In addition to these, you may want a living will. The advanced directive for healthcare, or health care power of attorney, will cover some aspects of severe injury or incapacitation, but there are other concerns to bear in mind if your health deteriorates.

You may need a provision for digital assets. This relates to your videos, digital photos, and your computers’ hard drives. It also includes any documents you have stored in the cloud. It covers your social media accounts, and any material you have published over the years.

Whether your legal team charges a flat fee (most common for estate planning) or an hourly fee, be sure to get their estimated charges in writing before the work starts.