Asking how much an estate plan will cost is one of the last questions you should be asking when considering an estate plan.
As an estate planning attorney, I often get asked the question, “Well, how much does it cost?”
But we can’t answer that question without understanding more about the situation, and explaining more about our process. Why is that?
If you called a contractor and said, “I want to build a house. How much will it cost?” What would the contractor say? Probably something about how it depends on what kind of house. In the same way, the cost of an estate plan depends on the type of plan and the goals you are trying to accomplish.
What if you called a car dealership and said, “I need a car. What will it cost?” They would probably ask what kind of car you are looking for.
Just like there are many types of houses and cars, estate plans are varied as well, because every family has different issues, goals, concerns, wealth levels, etc.
I understand that you do need to know the cost before making a decision (and we make sure all of our clients clearly know the cost before moving forward), but before you worry about the cost, you should ask some questions of the attorney first.
Here are 12 questions you should ask an estate planning attorney before you start to think about cost:
1) Do you regularly deal with estate planning? What other areas of practice do you have?
2) How do you define estate planning? What is your counseling philosophy?
3) How do you use technology to create customized wills and trusts?
4) Do you have a system in place to insure that each client is approached on an individual basis with their unique needs being addressed?
5) How can I be sure my plan will work the way I expect it to after I’m gone?
6) Are you capable of supporting my choices in conversations with aging parents or adult children and grandchildren, if I need it or want it?
7) How will you coordinate my assets and finances with my legal plan?
8) Will you work closely with my other advisors? (Such as financial advisors, accountant, etc.)
9) How will I keep my estate plan up to date? Is it up to me to call you when I think I need to make changes, or do you have a system to help me stay current?
10) What is your record with regard to probate? What percentage of your trust-based plans wind up in probate (court)?
11) What happens if something happens to you?
12) Do you have experienced staff to help with my planning? (The staff will be key in your dealings with the firm, so you want them to be as top-notch as the attorney.)
If you’re dealing with a top-notch professional – one who provides quality, custom services to each and every client, and one who values integrity above all else – then they cannot give you an honest answer about how an estate plan will cost without a thorough assessment of your unique circumstances.
This is why, at Edwards Group, we encourage anyone considering working with us to educate themselves, either through the resources on our website, through testimonials of friends and family members, or by attending a free monthly workshop — Aging With Confidence: 9 Keys to Wise Planning & Peace of Mind. Not everyone is a good fit to work with us. We tend to do things differently around here, and we want to be sure you are comfortable with all aspects of planning before moving forward. The more you trust us, the better job we can do protecting you and your family. Give us a call at 217-726-9200 to RSVP for a workshop or to schedule your Initial Meeting.