The first question from a potential client is “How much does it cost to do a will?, trust?” The answer is always “It depends on your needs and desires”. In fact, my question back should really be “How much are you willing to pay for peace of mind”? Because that is what a properly drafted estate plan gives you. It is not a mere collection of papers that you put away and never look at again. It is peace of mind that you and your family will be cared for in the event of incapacity and death. Without a plan, your family could pay thousands of dollars in attorney and court fees and months or years of wasted time.
A estate plan is like life insurance. You get life insurance, or any insurance for that matter, for peace of mind. You want to be certain that your family is cared for in the event something happens to you. You want there to be money to pay bills, keep the family home, raise and educate your children and provide some financial comfort to your surviving spouse. You are willing to go through the hassles of medical exams, questionnaires and pay a premium for 10, 20, 30 years (spending tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime) to obtain that peace of mind.
A well drafted estate plan and solid relationship with your estate planning attorney can give you the same peace of mind as life insurance at a fraction of the cost. So, how much should you pay for an estate plan? The first thing to remember is that an estate plan is not one-size-fits-all. Every person and family are different and, while there may be parts of any will or trust that are essentially the same, the plan you create with your attorney is entirely unique. Estate planning is a service as well as a product, so how much you pay should be determined by the value you are receiving. In deciding if you are getting good value, you should seek an experienced attorney who spends time with you really getting to know you and your situation. He or she should ask a lot of questions about your family, business, financial status and planning goals. The attorney should be actively involved in drafting your documents and spend time addressing your questions. And, most importantly, you should feel that you have a professional relationship with the attorney.
You may feel that the fee for an estate plan is a lot. Doing nothing costs a lot more. But, peace of mind is priceless.