How much does a will cost? How much does a living trust cost?

By far, for new callers to our office, one of the most common questions is “How much does a will cost?” or “How much does a living trust cost?”  First, I believe this is largely because many people don’t know what other questions to ask and how to distinguish from one lawyer to the next.  We also hear from clients all the time that they “just need a simple will.”  Well, maybe you do, but frequently we discover that you may need more than just the simple will.  Again, I strongly encourage you to read our report and some of the other tools and resources available on this site before you make a decision.

The important thing to know is that not all wills are the same, nor are all living trusts, nor are powers of attorney or any of the other documents included in your estate plan.  Thus, just calling around and asking “how much for a will?” could be like comparing apples and oranges.  Instead, you should be evaluating how much value does the will, trust or estate plan provide to me?  What does the will actually accomplish for me and my family?  What would the trust-based estate plan accomplish?

Over the years, I have reviewed many estate plans.  I’ve had people bring in bare bones 1.5 page lawyer-drafted wills and I’ve also drafted some wills that were over 80 pages!  The cost should ultimately be reflective of the value provided by the plan.

In our office, all of our work is done on a flat fee bases, but the fees may vary depending on the specific items and provisions of the plan, the goals achieved by the plan, and the value of the plan to the client.  Thus, we have lower cost, medium cost and high cost plans. 

I could potentially have a client come to my office with $8 million ultimate decide that an $800 plan is sufficient to meet his needs.  On the flip side, I could have a client with $250,000 that is paying thousands per month to a nursing home, then a nursing home asset protection plan with an investment comparable to one and two month's nursing home care might be of incredible value to her if it saves her thousands of dollars per month in nursing home expenses—so context, is very important before making a decision.

It’s also important to consider not just the cost today, but the cost over your and your family’s lifetime.  Some plans might be low cost now, but may wind up costing your family thousands of dollars more plus unnecessary time and aggravation down the road.  Conversely, other plans might cost a little more now, but save your family stress, headaches and thousands in the long run.

So how do you figure out what you really need, how much it will cost and what the value is provided?  That’s where we come in.  First, we take the time to educate you and help you be informed consumer through the various tools and resources available on this website, as well as our regularly occurring workshops.  Then, during our one-on-one Peace of Mind Planning Session, we’ll conduct a detailed estate plan audit, helping you identify your specific needs and goals and we’ll match that up with the right estate plan for you and your family.