How Much Is an Estate Planning Lawyer?
by Unbundled Legal Help
Creating an estate plan is one of the best decisions you can make for yourself, your future, and your family. But getting help with your estate plan can often mean high legal costs.
An estate planning lawyer is your best ally when creating your ideal estate plan. However, hiring an estate planning lawyer often means thousands of dollars in retainer fees and hundreds of dollars per hour to complete your estate plan.
If you’re looking to create an estate plan, an unbundled lawyer can help. Continue reading to better understand what estate planning entails and how we can connect you today with an unbundled estate planning lawyer in your area.
What Is Estate Planning?
Nearly everyone has an “estate.” When you set up an estate plan, you’re making the necessary preparations in the event you become incapacitated or pass away. Having a solid estate plan helps ensure your assets are properly managed and/or distributed should the need arise.
Everyone’s ideal estate plan looks different. There are certain legal documents involved in estate planning, including wills and trusts. It is helpful to understand the purpose and importance of each of these tools.
A will is a document created to provide details regarding your estate at your passing. Wills include pertinent information:
- Personal details
- A list of property and assets
- Intended beneficiaries
- Appointment of an executor
When you die, your executor carries out the tasks as laid out in your will. Your executor, or personal representative, is the person in charge of handling your estate.
You should have a will for many reasons. A will allows you to control how your estate is dispersed when you die, helps avoid the probate process, and aids in minimizing estate taxes.
A trust gives you, the trustor, the opportunity to create a fiduciary relationship between your chosen trustee and beneficiaries. The trustee manages and distributes the money or assets to your beneficiaries according to your instructions and the type of trust created.
You can choose from different types of trusts. One of the most frequently used types is a testamentary trust, a trust created according to the instructions left in the decedent’s will. Here are some other common types of trusts include:
- Revocable trusts
- Irrevocable trusts
- Spendthrift trusts
- Special needs trusts
- Charitable trusts
- Asset protection trusts
Trusts give you control over your money and assets and help avoid the probate process.
Living wills are unlike last wills and testaments. A living will, also referred to as an advance healthcare directive, lets you make decisions regarding future medical needs should you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself. The living will becomes effective in two scenarios, if either (1) you are permanently unconscious and on life support, or (2) you are terminally ill.
These important decisions include whether or not you would like to receive life-saving measures, preference for medical treatments, and organ donation. These decisions would be extremely difficult for a spouse, child, or family member to make. Having a living will takes the burden off these individuals.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
Along the lines of medical decisions, the healthcare power of attorney is a document appointing an agent to act on your behalf should you lose the ability to make your own healthcare decisions.
The healthcare power of attorney goes beyond what the living will can do. The living will is only effective under certain scenarios, whereas the healthcare POA is effective in all other situations. You can activate healthcare powers of attorney and living wills together, and some states allow for both to be combined into one document.
Durable Power of Attorney
A power of attorney gives your appointed agent the ability to act on your behalf if you become unable to handle your personal matters. This power of attorney is durable, rather than non-durable, because unlike ordinary powers of attorney that expire once you become mentally incompetent, durable powers of attorney remain effective even if that occurs.
Why Is Estate Planning So Important?
Even if you don’t believe you need an estate plan, you likely do. Having an estate plan is critical for many reasons. Having a solid estate plan provides the following features:
- Gives you control over your estate: When you create an estate plan, you’re making the big decisions regarding your estate rather than letting your family and the court handle it after you die. An estate plan helps ensure everything goes according to your plan.
- Helps avoid probate: Probate can be costly and time consuming. When you don’t have an estate plan, your estate must go through probate. Having an estate plan can help avoid lengthy probate, and in some cases, eliminate the need for it altogether.
- Protects beneficiaries: You may have chosen beneficiaries you wish to leave your assets to. An estate plan ensures your assets will be distributed as you intended. An estate plan ensures your beneficiaries are protected and benefit from your estate the way you’d like. Additionally, your estate plan can help disinherit any heirs you wish to exclude.
- Lessens the chance of family drama: When someone passes away, family drama often arises when it comes time to distribute assets. If you have a well-thought-out estate plan, your goals and desires are laid out, helping avoid the drama between family members.
- Provides tax benefits: Estates must file a tax return. An estate plan can help minimize taxes.
How Can an Estate Planning Lawyer Help Me?
While you can create your estate plan on your own, you’ll find it will likely get complicated and frustrating rather quickly. Estate planning is not as easy as it seems. There are many laws and details to consider, and creating a foolproof estate plan does not look the same for everyone. Estate plans are very personal.
An estate planning lawyer has the knowledge and skill to get the job done. An attorney will take on many tasks on the journey to giving you the best possible estate plan:
- Addressing all of your questions and concerns
- Getting to know your life and family situation
- Helping you choose your beneficiaries
- Guiding you through picking your executor or power of attorney
- Creating your ideal estate plan
- Drafting all necessary documents
- Getting all documents appropriately signed, witnessed, and notarized
- Updating your estate plan as needed
An estate planning lawyer can help you create the best possible estate plan, giving you peace of mind.
What Should I Look For in an Estate Planning Attorney?
Every estate planning attorney is different, and not all will suit your needs. When looking for an estate planning lawyer, it is best to consider the following details, including:
- How long the attorney has been practicing
- How much experience they have with estate planning
- How they engage in the estate planning process with their clients
- Whether they can update your estate plan in the future, if necessary
- How involved they allow their clients to be while creating the estate plan
- How much they charge
These factors can help when determining whether an estate planning lawyer is right for you. You will spend time working alongside your lawyer; therefore, it is best to feel confident with your decision.
How Much Does an Estate Planning Lawyer Cost?
Not every estate planning lawyer costs the same. These are some details that will influence their fees:
- Where you live
- How complex your situation is
- What services you need
Estate planning attorneys usually offer free initial consultations. Thereafter, the lawyer may charge an hourly or flat fee. Attorneys that charge a flat fee typically base it on which services you need for your estate plan.
On the other hand, many estate planning attorneys charge an hourly fee. Usually, the lawyer will require a large retainer fee to begin working. They work against the retainer, and once it has run out, they charge per hour. Retainer fees are $1,000 to $5,000, and hourly fees typically range from $250-$500 an hour.
An Unbundled Lawyer Can Help You Create Your Estate Plan
Creating an estate plan is crucial. However, many individuals avoid one for fear of high legal expenses. Fortunately, Unbundled Legal Help makes legal help accessible when you need it most.
If you’re willing to do some of the heavy lifting with creating your estate plan, an unbundled lawyer may be for you. An unbundled lawyer is essentially a “pay as you go” attorney. When you need guidance, you can count on your unbundled lawyer to help. They will only charge for services rendered, rather than charging for creating an estate plan from beginning to end.
Unlike a traditional estate planning lawyer, hiring an unbundled lawyer starts at $500-$1,500.
Unbundled Legal Help has a vast network of qualified estate planning lawyers ready to help you create your ideal estate plan. Whether it be assistance with determining your needs or drafting your estate planning documents, an unbundled lawyer can be extremely beneficial throughout the process.
Contact Unbundled Legal Help today. We can connect you today with a local estate planning lawyer.