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How Much Should I Pay for an Estate Plan?
Old 06-13-2017, 10:35 PM   #1
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How Much Should I Pay for an Estate Plan?

I contacted an estate planning attorney about setting up a plan. They had me complete a form showing the value and location of all my assets and liabilities, including a monthly statement for each. I don't have any liabilities and all my assets are in investment accounts, other than my house. Should be very easy to liquidate and distribute.

I wondered why they needed to know the value of everything. I assumed all they would need to know was what percentage of my assets I wanted each beneficiary to get.

I think I have discovered why they want to know the values. It looks like they base their fee on the size of the estate. But I think that's crazy. Why would it take any more of their time to create documents for a 5M dollar estate than for a 1M dollar estate if they both are invested in the same funds at Vanguard, for example?

For my plan they want over $4k. Isn't that a little pricey for an uncomplicated trust plan? They didn't even ask anything about the number and type of beneficiaries.
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Old 06-13-2017, 10:40 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by km4hr View Post
I contacted an estate planning attorney about setting up a plan. They had me complete a form showing the value and location of all my assets and liabilities, including a monthly statement for each. I don't have any liabilities and all my assets are in investment accounts, other than my house. Should be very easy to liquidate and distribute.

I wondered why they needed to know the value of everything. I assumed all they would need to know was what percentage of my assets I wanted each beneficiary to get.

I think I have discovered why they want to know the values. It looks like they base their fee on the size of the estate. But I think that's crazy. Why would it take any more of their time to create documents for a 5M dollar estate than for a 1M dollar estate if they both are invested in the same funds at Vanguard, for example?

For my plan they want over $4k. Isn't that a little pricey for an uncomplicated trust plan? They didn't even ask anything about the number and type of beneficiaries.
lol,the more you have the more they want, they must have learned this from my old financial adviser.
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Old 06-13-2017, 10:45 PM   #3
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I paid almost $5k back in 2011. it's not a one man business.
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Old 06-14-2017, 04:25 AM   #4
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They need to know the actual values because the Federal Gift and Estate tax laws and applicable State inheritance laws are based on the size of the estate in dollars. In other words, certain trusts and/or will provisions apply and are needed (and taxes are incurred) when the value of the estate exceeds $_____ dollars. Its somewhat like going to a doctor and asking for a remedy without telling him/her the extent of the ailment or the symptoms.

I disclosed the full extent of my assets and paid in excess of $5,000.00 to the attorney I chose to do my estate planning/will.

The open issue is what Trump and Congress may do or not do to the estate planning laws. Of course you still need to deal with State laws one way or the other. But Trump is in favor of repealing the Federal Estate tax. You may be under the threshold for the current Federal Estate Tax now which I believe is 5.49 million for an individual with couples able to currently shield double that with a proper plan. However, you could be severely effected by much lower State inheritance laws which in some states apply to relatively small estates.

My advice to you would be to have the attorney you are comfortable with complete your estate planning/will under current laws but negotiate in advance that if the estate tax is repealed or substantially modified (say within 2 years) he/she will revise your estate plan/will for an agreed upon smaller sum. After disclosing your assets the attorney should be able to provide you with a fixed fee (or a very reliable estimate) to complete your estate plan/will.
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Old 06-14-2017, 04:35 AM   #5
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My will, trust, living will, financial POA, and medical POA combined cost me $1k around 7 years ago. I didn't have any estate tax issues to deal with (less than the current exemption amount).
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Old 06-14-2017, 06:07 AM   #6
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DH and I paid about $3K for a revocable trust, 2 wills and healthcare Powers of Attorney about 3 years ago in a LCOL area. I know I've got to get the trust updated now that he's gone although the trust is in my name only and covered the contingency that DH died first. I'd rather spend the $$ on plane tickets than lawyers!

I'm still not enamored of the whole trust idea but attorneys sure seem to like it-it's a great revenue source. Mine is revocable so there are no tax advantages (my brother, a CPA who specializes in taxation, says to the IRS the trust doesn't exist). The main reason I'm glad it's there is that DS, my only child, isn't much interested in managing money and my brother the CPA is a successor trustee so he can help DS manage it. I've talked with DS and DDIL- they're devout Christians and I want them to use any money I leave behind for their kids' education and their own retirement before they start giving large chunks away. My brother is also a devout Christian who most likely tithes but also owns 3 houses, has a Tesla on order and vacations in Cabo St. Lucas. I'm hoping he'll be able o give DS some perspective.
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Old 06-14-2017, 06:15 AM   #7
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I paid $50 or so for quicken will maker in 2005. All our assets are inside a trust and DW and I are trustees.
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Old 06-14-2017, 06:22 AM   #8
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My lawyer (at the time) did mine for about 1k, but that was about 25 years ago. Try to be sure he/she has all the info he/she needs to get it right on the first draft. Lawyers love to recycle things, including bills.
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Old 06-14-2017, 07:16 AM   #9
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I think we paid about $400. Ours was similar, most assets are in retirement accounts and should be easy to distribute.
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Old 06-14-2017, 07:31 AM   #10
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In the planning process now. With the value expected to be above $5M, it looks like things will be more complicated.
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Old 06-14-2017, 10:46 AM   #11
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We paid 3K in a relatively LCOL area for a revocable trust, wills, and health powers of attorney.
Be sure you know what all is included in your "estate plan" regardless the price.
One of the best reason for a RLT (revocable living trust) is its ability to provide for seamless management of your assets by your designated trustees in case of any temporary or permanent impairment. We have several rentals and oversight of those items require a bit more attention than the portfolio per se. Avoids all the hassle of getting a court appointed trustee etc in case of impairment. Of course, there is also the well promoted, probate advantages.
Athena, you can also use your RLT to provide instructions to the Successor Trustee to pay tuitions for your nieces/nephews with whatever caveats you want to add.
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Old 06-14-2017, 07:44 PM   #12
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Legal Zoom has a $300 package deal to create a revocable living trust. Could that (or something similar from another company) be a serious way to go? LZ seems to be a legit outfit in most respects.
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Old 06-14-2017, 07:46 PM   #13
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I wouldn't do it yourself, especially if the asset is more than $5 Million. It's a small potato compares to the asset.
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Old 06-14-2017, 10:02 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by exnavynuke View Post
My will, trust, living will, financial POA, and medical POA combined cost me $1k around 7 years ago. I didn't have any estate tax issues to deal with (less than the current exemption amount).
Similar here. I paid $1,500 for those documents 9 years ago, in 2008.
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Old 06-14-2017, 10:19 PM   #15
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I paid $50 or so for quicken will maker in 2005. All our assets are inside a trust and DW and I are trustees.
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Legal Zoom has a $300 package deal to create a revocable living trust. Could that (or something similar from another company) be a serious way to go? LZ seems to be a legit outfit in most respects.
I would think that even if you use an attorney (which I would) either of these two items (software or LZ) would have the potential to save you a decent amount of money at the attorney (at least what they cost). They would force you to be prepared and do so on your own time. The more prepared you are going in the less time of the attorney you would use.
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Old 06-15-2017, 04:21 AM   #16
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We paid 4k back in 2008 for a comprehensive plan from a reputable law firm that provides services in estate planning, elder law and numerous other services. We've since had two reviews free of charge which is a good way to stay current on changes in federal and state estate laws.
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Old 06-15-2017, 05:59 AM   #17
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We paid about $700 around 8 years ago. This included the RLT, healthcare POA's and other POA's for conducting business. Our assets are in investment accounts and real estate, and we have no children. This thread has been helpful as it makes me think we should get it updated given legal and asset valuation changes since we had it done.
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Old 06-15-2017, 01:03 PM   #18
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I paid ~$2,500 in a HCOL area in 2014 for a revocable trust, will, health directive and powers of attorney (general and health care POAs).

Documents provide for asset management and health care decision making in the event of temporary or permanent impairment, and the efficient (streamlined and probate free) distribution of estate on death.

Our family has found our estate planning efforts well worth the expense following one family member's effective incapacity, and several who have passed in recent years.

Like insurance, you don't fully understand what it's worth until you need it; but the decision is yours on whether to self-insure or pay someone to help mitigate the impacts of a loss.
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Old 06-15-2017, 06:00 PM   #19
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I got my trust, will, health care directive, and POA done while I was still working, using a legal plan from Hyatt that my company offered. The plan cost me $3.50 a month, and I could drop it the following year once I had my documents. My only additional cost was postage and the notary fee. In my HCOL area, the package runs about $2900.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:57 PM   #20
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We paid 4k back in 2008 for a comprehensive plan from a reputable law firm that provides services in estate planning, elder law and numerous other services. We've since had two reviews free of charge which is a good way to stay current on changes in federal and state estate laws.
They charged me $800 every two years to review. I only terminated the maintenance part this year. If I wait long enough, I can redo my trust if I need to, I mean the maintenance fee can pay for a new trust. I'm think it might be revised if we have new estate law.
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