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Cost of estate planning attorney

Cost of estate planning attorney

Estate planning is an important part of ensuring that you and your loved ones are taken care of. While wills are most commonly associated with estate planning, there are a number of other documents that can help you plan for handling finances during your life and after your passing. Additionally, powers of attorney can help ensure that you have named trusted people to make choices for you when you are unable to make them for yourself.

In this post, we'll discuss the cost of estate planning attorney services, how to choose an attorney and what questions to ask attorneys whom you are considering.

Cost of Estate Planning Attorney Services

There is no one-size-fits-all price for an estate plan because there is no single estate plan that works for everyone. How much you can expect to pay an attorney for drafting an estate plan or individual documents will depend on a few factors, including how complex your situation is, what types of documents you want and whether you are charged a flat rate or by the hour.

In most circumstances, a flat rate is preferable for both the attorney and the client. A flat rate allows clients to know ahead of time how much they can expect to pay, and attorneys are able to spend as much time on an estate plan as needed without feeling rushed. Additionally, when you're being billed at a flat rate, you're more likely to be willing to call and ask questions or spend more time having estate planning documents explained to you because it's already factored into your final cost.

Most attorneys will not quote a flat rate price to you until you have spoken with them about your needs and figured out what type of estate plan you want. In very general terms, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars for a fairly simple estate plan, but a complex one involving a variety of trusts and setting up funding for them may cost thousands of dollars.

In some cases, an attorney may charge you an hourly rate, or they may charge a flat rate for drafting certain documents and an hourly rate for others. Hourly rates can vary significantly depending on the level of experience the firm offers and where they are located. In small towns, you might find lawyers offering an hourly rate of $150, but you can expect to pay a minimum of $200 per hour in most cities and urban areas.

How To Choose An Estate Planning Attorney

According to the American Bar Association, you should always ask an attorney or law firm about their qualifications and level of experience related to estate planning. The bare minimum level of experience that a lawyer should have in estate planning is three years, but you're likely to be far better off with an attorney that has 10 years of experience or more. Attorneys with this level of experience will be more familiar with the laws and how to ensure that your wishes are followed and that your heirs face the lowest tax liability.

For the same reason that you want an attorney with at least a decade working in estate planning, you want an attorney that also focuses on this field of law. An attorney that specializes in estate planning will be better equipped to help you with complex requests, and an attorney that specializes can also help you avoid probate. Probate costs American families about two billion dollars per year, so your best bet is to have an attorney that can set up an estate plan that avoids it if at all possible.

What To Ask Attorneys

To help you determine which firm is right for you, here are a few questions that can help you get a better feel for what an estate planning attorney can do for you.

Do you provide a maintenance program? What type of estate planning documents do I need?

Many people assume that once an estate plan is in place, it's basically set in stone. The problem is that people's lives change, and so do laws. It's beneficial to have an attorney that offers a maintenance plan that goes over documents every year or so to ensure that they are still accurate based on current laws and someone's circumstances.

It's important that you and your attorney are on the same page with your estate plan. An experienced attorney should be able to provide you with a list of documents that will help you manage your estate and ensure that financial and health care choices are made by individuals you trust when you are not able to make these decisions. You should not feel dramatically at odds with an attorney or that you are being pressured into paying for documents that you truly feel won't benefit you.

What type of estate planning documents can you draft? Do you offer mediation and counseling services?

While most attorneys can draft basic estate planning documents, if you are interested in something like a charitable remainder trust or want to set up a pour-over will, you probably need a firm that specializes in estate planning. It's a good idea to have every option available to you when setting up an estate plan, so find out ahead of time if you'll be working with someone capable of setting up less common documents.

Tension between trustees and beneficiaries is fairly common because trustees are responsible for doling out assets from a trust. When beneficiaries and trustees cannot find common ground, both parties may find themselves resolving disputes through the court. Mediation services can help these individuals find common ground without resorting to the legal system, which can waste both time and money.


Thinking of setting up an estate plan? Here's what you need to know about estate planning, selecting an attorney to set up your plan and how much you can expect to pay.