Even if you only need a simple will, it is advisable to seek the help of a qualified attorney. Writing a will is one of the least expensive legal tasks that you can request and it is well worth the investment to have it done by an expert.
For dealing with estate and inheritance taxes, probate with assets in more than one state, and/or setting up any kind of a trust, an attorney becomes a necessity. Both federal and state estate laws are changing every year. Therefore, it is advisable to select an attorney who specializes in estate and probate law, just as you would want a physician who specializes in cardiology to care for your heart.
There are several ways to find a good estate planner from the old-fashioned “let your fingers do the walking” to recommendations from friends and business associates. In all cases you will definitely want to interview the candidates. Much of estate planning is up-close and personal, regarding family business or confidential information, and you should feel comfortable in discussing this information with your planner. The association really needs to be a good fit; alterations are not free.
The cost of a basic estate plan can run between $300 and $2,000 depending on the complexities involved. A basic trust plan may run between $1,800 and $3,000, possibly more depending on the size of the estate and the complexities involved. A good estate planner should be able to give you a close estimate of what the plan will cost depending on your special requirements and needs as well as making sound judgments and recommendations on your behalf. This is a highly specialized area requiring the help of a competent, experienced individual.
Don’t settle for less. Small mistakes can lead to big problems for you and your beneficiaries.
In an effort to help you get organized and gather the information your attorney will need to advise you with your estate plan, we include here a Will Planning Wizard that should assist you.
The more you prepare beforehand, the less time your attorney will need to prepare your documents. Which, of course, is good since he or she will likely be charging you by the hour!