If you’re wondering about the expenses associated with ensuring your property is divided and distributed according to your wishes, you are not alone.
It is quite common for people to ask, How much does an estate planning attorney cost?
Many people are so concerned with the estate planning attorney cost that they never understand the actual expense and thus pass without proper estate planning.
Less than half of Americans have a Will. Without a Will, you are putting your estate and loved ones in a challenging position once you pass.
While there’s no simple answer to this question of cost, there are certain things you can take into consideration to better determine what your estate plan expenses may be.
How Much Does an Estate Planning Lawyer Cost?
A well-crafted, thorough estate plan can save your estate and loved ones significant amounts of time, money, and stress. Just avoiding the risks and expenses of a drawn-out probate process can make your upfront estate planning attorney cost well worth the expense.
The cost of having an estate plan prepared will vary widely depending on several factors, such as:
- The type of estate planning documents you need;
- The experience of the attorney you hire;
- The complexity of your estate and plan; and
- Whether your attorney bills by the hour or offers flat fee services.
An experienced estate planning attorney can help you assess your individual needs and estimate the estate planning attorney cost you can expect.
At The Zimmerman Law Firm, we offer flat fee estate planning services so that there are no surprises.
Once we discuss the basics of what you would like your estate plan to accomplish, we can recommend documents tailored to your needs and ensure you understand and are comfortable with the associated cost before we get to work.
What Happens If I Do Not Have a Will?
When a person passes without a Will, their estate is considered intestate. Texas intestate succession laws govern how the estate is to be distributed to family members of the deceased.
Some people mistakenly assume if they have a relatively simple estate, it will be easily distributed according to the default laws.
Unfortunately, intestate succession laws are more complex than most people realize and can cause significant conflict between surviving family members. There are also costs associated with the probate process for intestate estates that will come out of the estate or the pockets of your loved ones.
What Does an Estate Planning Attorney Do?
An estate planning attorney focuses on estates, trusts, and probate law. They can give personalized advice based on your situation and wishes and prepare the estate planning documents you need.
They can also answer specific questions regarding how to minimize estate and inheritance taxes or use different types of trusts to care for your family members.
The cost of these documents and services vary but can be invaluable to your heirs. Some of the documents and situations an estate planning attorney can help with include the following.
Some accounts, such as bank, investment, and retirement accounts, allow you to name beneficiaries for the account’s funds.
Life insurance beneficiaries are also important to properly designate. These funds can then be passed to your beneficiaries outside of probate or without being transferred to a trust.
Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament is a document stating what you want to happen with your affairs after you die, taking care of the distribution for most of your property and obligations.
For example, you can use your Will to give your assets to individuals or charities. You can also use it to designate a guardian for your dependent children.
Living wills, which are also referred to as physician’s directives or advanced directives, are used to communicate your wishes for end-of-life medical treatment if you are unable to communicate due to a terminal or irreversible illness or condition. This relieves your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions on your behalf.
A trust is a legal document that holds assets like property or money and is managed by someone known as a trustee. They oversee the assets until they are transferred to the beneficiaries.
A trust can have favorable tax implications and can be used to hold funds until beneficiaries who are minors reach a designated age where they are deemed responsible enough to manage the assets themselves.
Durable Financial and Medical Powers of Attorney
Power of attorney documents let you name people who can make decisions on your behalf, including those regarding finances, property, legal, business, and medical decisions.
Each type of decision can be dedicated to a different person if desired. These are “durable” if the specified power continues while you are incapacitated.
Multiple types of deeds can be used to transfer property to an individual or organization. If you choose, you can also establish a trust and transfer your property to the trust using a deed.
There are also deeds that allow you to own and live in your current home but have it automatically passed to the beneficiary upon your death. If that sounded complicated, don’t worry; that is what your estate planning attorney is for.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
Many legal requirements must be met for your legal documents to be considered valid. Estate planning is complex, and working with an experienced attorney can ensure there are no unwanted surprises.
When you choose our firm, your estate planning attorney cost is based on a flat rate per document type and whether you are building a plan as an individual or a couple. We want to make sure you get what you need and understand what you are paying for.