Financial Freedom in Retirement Blog

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By: George Wells


December 10, 2018

How to Evaluate Estate Planning Cost of an Attorney Vs Value

Topics: Estate Planning

What if you need to adjust your estate-planning goals or your needs change? What do you do now? How much is it going to cost you and is it worth the money? What if you are building your estate plan for the first time? What if you have a plan already, how do you adjust it?

Adjusting Your Estate-Planning Goals: Adapting to Changes

Here’s the obvious: if you have a change in your family, health or wealth situation, go back to the attorney who drew up your documents, and have him or her make the needed revisions. If you change your estate-planning goals, make sure all your documents reflect your current wishes. Maybe one son has more money than he will ever need, you already gave another son money to make a down payment on his house, so you want to give your daughter more money than you give your sons. You, your trustee and your attorney are the only ones who will be privy to that information. It’s often best to keep details like this confidential because someone who is receiving less of an inheritance than someone else might get upset, not knowing the whole story. It might cause contention. No one wants to look down from heaven and think, “Oh my gosh… they’re fighting like they did when they were six!” You want to make sure all of this is set up so you can keep peace in the house as much as possible.

How Often Should I Review My Estate Plan?

Once you have your durable financial powers of attorney set up in your estate plan and have named your beneficiaries, review that information every five years to make sure that it’s up-to-date with current laws. If anything changes in your family situation, with your health or regarding your wealth, you want to review your legal documents to be sure everything is up-to-date. Have an attorney or other expert review your forms and make any changes that are needed.


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How Much Does an Estate Planning Attorney Cost?


Preparing an estate plan could cost anywhere from $75 to $1,000, but generally it costs between $350 and $650 to have an attorney draw up the medical and financial durable powers of attorney. You can estimate that it will take an attorney typically one to two hours.

What is the value VS the cost of an estate plan?

I hate to say, “You get what you pay for.” In this case, it is more like, “You get what the attorney specializes in.” Make sure your attorney does the work you are asking for daily. Having an appropriate plan matters only if you need to use it. Have an appropriate

Do I Need an Attorney to Help with My Estate Plan?

You probably should; we do not advise that you attempt to do that on your own. It is wise to seek legal counsel. To save yourself time, energy and money, we recommend that you review the content here so you can understand more about this topic. My father often asked me, “Do you understand all you know about it?” We have created this resource to provide you with information that will educate you about estate planning in layman’s terms — not in language attorneys use. This means how you will manage all the stuff you own while you’re alive and how you will transfer it to where you want it to go when you pass away in a quick, easy and efficient way, from a tax and everything-else standpoint.

Choosing an estate planning professional you can trust can be difficult. Knowing how the fiduciary responsibility works will help you know the guidelines each professional has to follow when serving you.




Can I Just Get the Estate Planning Forms Online and Do It Myself?

Some people ask if they can get some power-of-attorney forms online and fill them out on their own. It is possible to do that, but we do not recommend it. You don’t want to sign some generic form and give someone complete authority over everything about you medically and financially, without an attorney taking your situation into consideration. It just doesn’t sound safe. We are not attorneys, so we recommend that you find an attorney who specializes in this area. The attorney can make it so the provisions apply to your own situation, conform with formalities in your state and make sure it’s up-to-date. Also, if you do it yourself, your bank or other financial institution might refuse to accept a document that looks risky because an attorney did not prepare it — for your protection. So you might have to go through the bank’s legal department.

One of the biggest misconceptions about estate planning is that there is a magic form that applies to everyone’s situation that you can download from the internet. People think they can find such a form, fill it out quickly, sign their name, get it notarized and then everyone’s happy. Maybe generic forms like that do exist. But it is a risk to use them. Your form must be customized to address the unique aspects of your family’s situation, such as your children’s ages and their ability or likelihood of being responsible with assets.

Can I Make Changes to My Estate Plan Once It’s in Place? 

People often ask if they can change their minds about details once they have completed funding a trust. Yes, you can always change the trust. With a revocable living trust, you as the creator of the trust can change it. You can add or remove property, change who will make decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself and change who will inherit your property after you’re gone.

You might be wondering, “What if I spend all this money, all this work, and all this effort, and then I decide I don’t want to handle my stuff like that?” That’s OK. You can change your mind by amending your estate plan. It’s really easy; in fact, it is easier to amend your plan than to set it up from the beginning.


Ready for a Financial Professional?

Okay, so you’re officially fired up about estate planning, but maybe you’re unsure about how to get started. No problem! We understand that all the information involved in estate planning can be a little intimidating at first.

  • Do you have questions, comments or suggestions after viewing our Estate Planning Guide? 
  • Would you like to video chat or talk on the phone to someone at FundMax before meeting with an attorney?
  • Would you like us to recommend an estate planning professional?

Referrals for Estate Planning 

If you’re looking for a referral from a tax or legal professional, we will refer people to you if we’re comfortable with them and if we and our other clients have had good experiences with them. We will not refer anyone to you if we are uncomfortable about doing so.

You might need us, but you might not. Maybe you came here and got all the information you need, and you are thinking, “I feel a little guilty because I got all this stuff from them and gave them nothing.” Well, share it. Send it to somebody else…or don’t. We are here for you. We are here for your benefit, so feel free to use all our materials to learn something new. We will be here, still serving you and giving you information.

If you have questions you would like to have answered that you think others might benefit from as well, contact us, and we will likely create a method to answer those questions as well. You are probably not the only one with that question. 


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