1. Money

How Much Should Estate Planning Documents Cost?

Quoting a Legal Fee Based on Your Unique Needs

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"How much do you charge for estate planning documents?" or "How much does a will cost?" Often times these are the first words out of a potential client's mouth. But like with many things that have to do with estate planning, or any other legal advice for that matter, the answer is "It depends."

Estate Planning Fees Are Not One Size Fits All

Why can't an estate planning attorney just quote you a fee to prepare your estate plan right off the bat? Because estate planning is never "one size fits all" or even "one size fits most," so estate planning fees can't possibly be one size fits all. Every week this concept is reinforced for me by the unique clients that I meet: Some have been married more than once and some have been married to the same person for over 40 years; some are old and some are young; some are filthy rich and some are just getting by; and some have a great family, some have a completely dysfunctional family, and still others have lost contact (on purpose or not) with their family. How could I possibly write generic, "one size fits all" estate planning documents for each of these unique clients? That would be an impossible task, and quoting a fee for estate planning documents without getting into the nitty-gritty of each client's unique estate planning needs would also be impossible.

What You Should Do

If you're in need of an estate plan, don't sell yourself short. Doing nothing at all will leave your family with a mess and "do it yourself" estate planning documents will fall far short of your estate planning goals. Take the time to find and hire a qualified estate planning attorney to prepare an estate plan that's uniquely tailored to your current financial and family situations. Otherwise, your family will need to find and hire a good guardianship attorney if you become incapacitated and a good probate lawyer to sort it all out after you're gone.

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