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  • Writer's pictureIsha Kakkar, Esq.

Costs of Estate Planning

The costs of Estate Planning definitely outweigh the costs of not planning at all. Depending on your specific needs, the costs of estate planning will vary.

If your estate and assets are less than $150,000, at the very least you should have a Will and Powers of Attorney in place. The distribution of any personal items and personal wishes would be dictated in your Will. The Powers of Attorney would allow agents to act in your behalf in regards to financial decisions and health care decisions, in the event you are unable to (incapacitated) during your lifetime. Without such Powers of Attorney, your loved ones would have to petition the court for the power and authority to make any financial or health care decisions on your behalf. This can be difficult in the event that you have conflicting views with a certain family member or the possibility of the court granting the rights to an agent that is a complete stranger to you.

If your estate and assets are equal to or greater than $150,000 (which is easy to achieve especially if you own a home in California), you will need more than just a Will if you wish to avoid Probate. Having a trust in place allows for potential reduction in estate taxes as well as easy transfer of assets to beneficiaries without court interference. It’s important to note that the more complex your estate is, the costs of setting up a trust may be greater.

While the average cost of setting up a basic estate plan (Will, Financial Power of Attorney, and Health Care Power of Attorney) can range in the hundreds of dollars, the costs of setting up a trust can average the thousands. Most estate planning attorneys offer flat fees catered to your specific needs.

It’s important to note that while estate planning has its costs, the up front costs and benefits of having an estate plan in place significantly outweigh not having a plan in place at all. For example, probate fees can vary from $4,000 to $33,000 if the value of your estate is between $100,000 to $2,000,000. And $43,000 to $113,000 if your estate is valued $3,000,000 to $10,000,000.

How do I determine the value of my estate? Don't count your liabilities (credit card debt, mortgage, loans, etc.). Count the value of your home, properties, bank accounts, life insurance, investment accounts, business interests, etc. This will allow you to determine what the value of your estate is and the potential probate fees involved in the event you do not plan.

So why not avoid any potential fees and the possibility of probate by ensuring your financial and personal affairs are in order? Having an estate plan in place will allow for your agents to manage your affairs in the event you are incapacitated as well as aid in avoiding lengthy, time consuming, and costly probate procedures. It’s better than passing without a plan and having to fork over hard earned money that could have been for your loved ones.

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