Many people call and ask us how to get started with their planning.
Sometimes, the best advice I can give is to tell someone what they should NOT do! So, how should you NOT get started?
DON'T ask this question:
How Much Do You Charge for a Will or Trust?
A good lawyer cannot answer that question without talking with you first. A lawyer that does answer that question, without knowing anything about you, is not doing you any favors.
I’m sorry, but it’s true. If you call a lawyer, ask “how much is a Will”, and they tell you a price, without knowing anything about you, then they are offering you a standard “canned” solution. That Will is not a custom-tailored, detailed plan, which is what we offer at our firm.
It's not wrong to want to know the price of planning. You shouldn’t have to be surprised by the pricing after your plan is done. However, cost should not be the primary deciding factor in your planning.
Plans range in price because plans range in type!
There are a million factors that can change the plan, and ultimately, the pricing. Our pricing results from the plan that works for you, and only you. Every person is different, therefore every Estate Plan, Will, and Trust is different. If a lawyer gives you a price, without finding out anything about you, call someone else.
How do I find out what my deciding factors are?
Meeting with an attorney who specializes in estate planning, as we do at Monteforte Law, would be the first step. The problem is that "you don't know what you don't know!" You may think you only need a simple Will, and maybe you're right, but unless you've been trained to know the right questions to ask, you won't know for sure. Your attorney should know what factors to consider and should help you feel at ease.
We get a lot of clients who call and explain that they have a simple Will, but years went by and they realized that their lives changed. We spend a lot of our time fixing Simple Wills. (Read more about the Dangers of the Simple Will, HERE) If these clients' Wills had already been more personalized, they would have saved themselves thousands of dollars and a lot of headaches.
What is the right question?
Here are several good questions to start with:
- What do I need to have in place to protect my family and my assets?
- What type of estate plan will make things the easiest on my family after I am gone?
- How do I protect my legacy and my family’s inheritance?
- How do I pass on my wealth, while giving away as little as possible to taxes and long-term care to nursing homes?
- What do I need to do to make sure my child’s spouse doesn’t end up with my money?
- How do I protect the money and home equity I have spent a lifetime saving?
If you care about your family, don’t leave them with a big mess to clean up.
That’s exactly what happens when you use cheap online documents or forms from a book. If you do that you have no idea what’s even in those documents because you haven’t been trained to spot the mistakes, and you won’t know what’s missing from those forms, and the consequences it will have.
It’s not just important to know what’s there, it’s also important to know what’s missing. That’s why you need guidance and advice. If you haven’t been trained to write estate plan documents, how do you know what you need? That’s where we come in.
Plans that are not done properly lead to major problems such as:
- Lengthy and Expensive Probate
- Time-Consuming and Expensive Court Proceedings
- Estate Tax Issues
- Absolute Nightmare for your Beneficiaries.
You can save yourself from these headaches by doing it right the first time.
We put together estate plans that have a cost based on the time needed to create the plan and the level of expertise needed. It's important to note you're getting more than just the plans themselves, you are also "buying” our guidance and advice for yourself and your loved ones.
When you call us and ask, “How much for a Will or a Trust?” we can’t answer the question until we’ve talked with you. We need to know what your goals are.
Our process begins with a Strategic Planning Session. Before this Session, you will receive our online intake form that you can complete from home. This will help us make the most of your time during your session. After the meeting, you will get a custom-made set of recommendations, that includes all pricing. Our pricing is done at flat-rates so that our clients don't have to worry about their bill going up every time they call or email with a question.
Are you still looking for a ballpark number?
Most of our plans range from $3,500 to $8,000, depending on the situation. If you have more assets or own a business, you might be on the higher end of that spectrum. If you are a single person with or without children, and not a lot of assets, you might be on the lower end. Your plan is tailor-made to suit your needs and goals. While we recommend certain options to you, the choice of which option to choose is left to you and you alone.
What other factors should you consider when hiring a lawyer?
- How long has your lawyer been in practice?
- Does he/she offer education materials at no cost?
- Has he/she ever been published?
- Is he/she active and giving back to the community?
- Why did he/she become an estate and elder law attorney in the first place?
Any good lawyer should be able to answer those questions for you.
An estate planning lawyer relationship should not be transaction-based. Your lawyer shouldn’t hand you your documents, never to talk again. Frequent contact is necessary, at least annually. Here at Monteforte Law, we schedule a follow-up call exactly one year from your signing to assure that everything you did with us is still up to date. Not updating your estate plan can be just as bad as not having one at all.
Monteforte Law will help you make the best decision for you and your family.