Why Everyone Needs Estate Planning, Not Just the Very Wealthy
Jordan: I’m Jordan Flake. I’m an attorney with Clear Counsel Law Group, and I do a lot of estate planning in my legal practice, and one thing that people are starting to catch on to is that estate planning isn’t just for the elderly or the rich. It’s really for everyone because we all have an interest in protecting, for example, what happens to us if we become incapacitated, and so as we start to cater our services to a younger generation who see the need for estate planning, we’re getting a lot more questions about why does this costs so much or how much is this going to cost, or am I going to get additional bills?
Let me tell me you a little bit about how the marketplace generally charges for estate planning services. On the extreme low end of the spectrum, there are non-attorney solutions to estate planning, and those non-attorney solutions can include, for example, drafting your own legal documents, and that’s something where oftentimes you can go online and purchase the form for maybe a few hundred dollars. I would caution against putting too much confidence in that situation. Obviously, I’m an attorney, so I’m the one who sees a lot of the times that those documents don’t work out, but at the same time, I’m willing to say that that’s better than nothing. In that scenario, you’d be looking at a few hundred dollars and working on it on your own. You wouldn’t really have the backing of a law firm with respect to those documents, and so that’s something you have to consider.
Kind of moving up the line, you have what are considered the simple estate planning documents, which often just include a will and power of attorney documents, and power of attorney documents are those documents that say what happens to me if I’m incapacitated. Who’s going to make medical decisions on my behalf. Who’s going to make financial decisions on my behalf, and if you’re just doing those, you might be in the $200 to $300, possibly $400 range just to prepare those documents.
If you really want to do a comprehensive estate plan, then if you own property, it may likely include a revocable living trust, and once you do that, then you probably in the marketplace are looking more along the range of $1,000 to $2,000, and in terms of how attorneys actually bill for this, most firms know what preparing a trust entails because they’ve possibly done a lot of them like our law firm has, and so we know that we can simply prepare these documents on a flat fee basis because we understand what work will be involved in preparing the documents. That’s how most lawyers are going to charge, is just on a flat fee basis.
That being said, you do have to be cautious because there is a tendency in advertising to want to bait and switch and say $499 for a trust, and then you go in and find out it didn’t include other documents, such as a power of attorney document. That’s just a brief overview. Different marketplaces can be different. If you want obviously the most accurate quote, please reach out to our law firm, so we can let you know exactly what it is that will work for you and how much we would charge you on a flat fee basis. Brian, do you have any questions on this at all?
Brian: Is there an age which would be too young to form an estate plan?
Jordan: Obviously, you’d have to be an adult to be able to sign those with any type of legal authority, but every estate plan that most lawyers are going to recommend will include a statement that says this is what I want to have happen to me if I’m incapacitated, if I pass away, and so there’s no age at which there’s no risk of incapacity or death, and so the answer is 18. If you’re 18, you can use an estate plan. Now, whether or not that actually happens in practice, I would say certain life events would more determine the real need to come in and get an estate plan done. These life events could include, for example, marriage. It could include having a child, owning your first home. Those are some types of things that I would say definitely should trigger more urgency in your mind in terms of getting an estate plan done. Any other questions on that, Brian?
Brian: You’re saying that if someone calls Clear Counsel Law Group, you’ll be able to tell them up front what the cost will be for the trust.
Jordan: We will with a lot of accuracy be able to tell you after the first phone call because really it’s just a question of what you’re trying to accomplish, and if you have property, a house, life insurance policy, children, we’re going to know pretty well. We’ve seen situations that we can let you know with a high degree of certainty exactly how it’s going to come out. Now, in terms of exactly what it’ll cost, we would like to do a free consultation, sit down with you, complimentary consultation. The reason we do that is because that’ll allow us to get to know you better and get to know all the different circumstances. At the end of that free consultation, we will tell you exactly what we’re facing.