No matter how complex your estate is, or how much you own, it’s important that you manage it all properly.
This is where estate planning comes in. Estate planning gives you complete control over what happens to your assets when you pass away, and it can prevent unnecessary stress for your family down the line.
Let’s be honest, though. For most people, one question springs to mind – how much does it cost? Well, although it’s impossible to give you an exact figure without finding out more about your estate, here’s an estate planning guide that’ll help you understand what to expect.
Here's everything you need to know.
Here’s an overview of the steps involved in planning an estate, and a look at how to estimate your estate planning attorney costs.
How Estate Planning Works
There are three main components of estate planning. In short, the process involves:
- Understanding your specific needs and goals
- Assessing your estate’s total value
- Ensuring we have the right documents in place, such as wills and powers of attorney, to administer your estate in line with your wishes
You can think of estate planning as a long-term investment in your family’s future and your personal goals. Once you’ve planned your estate and put the right procedures in place, you can relax knowing that your personal and professional interests are protected. And remember, if your estate changes, we can always revise your plan so it serves your new goals.
How do you actually plan an estate?
Let's take a look.
Although every estate is unique, there are a few things you should always have.
Estate Planning Attorney Costs: What to Expect
When you’re planning an estate, the costs can vary considerably. There are a few reasons for this, but generally, costs vary due to:
- The size of the estate
- The estate’s complexity
- The specific services you require
- Taxation issues
At Business Estate & Tax Attorneys, P.C., we always aim to design comprehensive, cost-effective estate plans for our clients that optimize taxes and reduce the likelihood of probate problems. Typically, we find that a retainer model works best. Retainers cover ongoing estate administration work, such as managing trusts. Once you retain us, we then bill against these funds as we complete other essential work. For most clients, retainers are a convenient way to take some of the stress out of managing an estate.
We believe that every client is unique.
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to estate planning, and we’re not satisfied until we find the perfect solution. To find out more about our estate planning attorney costs, contact us now to arrange an initial assessment.
- Complex Estates
- Living Trust
- Advance Health Care Directive
- Durable Power of Attorney (Financial)
A will is a legal document that sets out how your estate should be divided upon your death.
If you don’t have a will, your estate will be divided according to the laws of intestacy in California, and you may not be happy with the results. One of the main costs associated with wills in California is probate. Probate is the legal process whereby your estate is settled, your debts are paid, and your estate is formally administered.
The problem with probate is that it costs money, and these costs are often entirely avoidable. Our goal is to reduce probate costs and avoid them wherever possible, which is why we sometimes recommend drafting not only a simple will but also a living trust.
The cost varies depending on:
- How complex the will is
- The amount of ongoing estate administrative work that will be required
A note on complex estates.
If you own a business or you have a large estate, you’ll probably need additional plans setting out how to:
- Dispose of your assets in a tax-efficient way
- Sell, dispose of, or distribute your business
- Manage trusts for children or others lacking capacity
We can advise you on the costs of these extra services once we know more about you.
What’s the difference between a Living Trust v. Living Will in California?
Everyone should have a will, but we don’t all need living trusts. Why? Because the main goal of a living trust is to distribute assets quickly and cost-effectively, without going through probate. This has obvious advantages for large estates with complex tax considerations, but it’s less important for smaller, simple estates.
In short, it’s not so much a contest of living trust v. living will in California. It’s simply that some estates need both. We can advise which option is right for you.
Who will care for you during an emergency?
With an advance health care directive, you can tell your family, and healthcare providers, how you wish to be cared for if you’re incapacitated.
You must select someone to act as your agent and communicate your requests – pick someone reliable.
Who will manage your finances?
A durable power of attorney lets you appoint an individual to manage your financial affairs if you can’t look after them yourself anymore.
As with the advance health care directive, you should always pick someone trustworthy.
What assets are within the estate?
By setting out an inventory of the estate, you reduce the likelihood of disputes arising between family members at a later date.
You can always revise this list as assets move in and out of your estate.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is for general purposes only, and it is not intended as a substitute for legal advice.