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How much does estate planning cost?
What is estate planning? What are the benefits of estate planning? How can I save money on estate planning? We have the answers
Estate planning is important for anyone in any tax bracket, as it can help you protect your assets when you pass away.
Making a will (or, if appropriate, creating a trust), in addition to having a life insurance policy in place, can help things go smoothly, and ensure your wishes are honored after you pass. These things can help you take care of financial needs for your children, your family members, and other loved ones after you’re gone, potentially avoiding ugly legal battles and perhaps even reducing their tax liability.
Keep reading to learn more about the cost of estate planning, and how to save money on it.
In this article:
What is estate planning?
Estate planning is the process of deciding what happens to everything you own after you die. It’s the legal process of creating binding documents to make sure your wishes are carried out. It can help make a stressful time easier on your loved ones and can save money, too.
If you die without a plan, your family will have to decide what to do. At best, they’ll have to make difficult decisions while still dealing with their loss.
At worst, the state will decide some things for you. And note that the American Bar Association says it takes an average of six to nine months to complete the probate process. There are also fees involved, often up to $1,500, not including the cost to your family of hiring an attorney to handle matters.
Estate planning can help you and your family bypass much of the probate process and eases the stress and financial burden of dealing with your affairs after you pass away.
What’s included in an estate plan?
With an estate plan, you typically get all of the legal documents you need, potentially including:
- Last will and testament: Designates your final wishes and how assets will be distributed.
- HIPAA authorization: Authorizes designated individuals to access your health information under certain circumstances, such as if you become incapacitated.
- Living will: In case you become unable to make important healthcare or medical treatment decisions, you can pre-authorize someone else to make decisions on your behalf or require medical personnel to stick to certain protocols.
- Power of attorney: Grants authority to someone you trust to make personal or business decisions on your behalf under certain circumstances.
- A trust (if needed): A trust can detail your estate plan and describe the management, control, and distribution of assets during your life or after your death. One popular option is a revocable living trust, which allows you to remain in control of everything until you pass on, and you can make changes at any time.
- Schedule of assets: A list of the assets you put into the trust (house, car, investments, jewelry, art, etc.).
- Certification of trust: A summary of key provisions in the trust you can use to show that the trust exists, but without revealing personal details.
How much does estate planning cost?
It depends. Estate planning can cost thousands of dollars in attorney fees. Depending on the size of your asset and its complexities, it might cost even more.
Overall, a basic estate plan with the documents you need might cost about $1,500. More complex planning, including trusts, taxes, and legal advice for special circumstances can cost between $3,000 and $10,000 (or more). Some estate planning attorneys will charge a flat fee for estate planning services, whereas others charge by the hour at rates of $200 to $400.
How to make estate planning more affordable
Happily, in the 21st century, digital estate planning has made the process more affordable and accessible. If your estate is a relatively simple one (i.e., you don’t own your own business, or have a portfolio of international properties), planning your estate online can be a cost-friendly alternative.
Using an online estate planner like Trust & Will can significantly reduce the costs of estate planning. Bonus: Eligible Haven Term policyholders enjoy no-cost trust or will services from Trust & Will through the Haven Life Plus bonus rider, a suite of services aimed at making life less hard.
Other costs of estate planning
There are some costs you can’t avoid if you want to protect your assets. For example, if you need to get an appraisal for assets, such as jewelry or your home, you may need to pay an appraiser. Although you don’t need to know the exact amount something is worth, you may want to know so you can divide your assets fairly among those who will inherit them.
If you own a home or car and want to place it in a trust, you’ll need to retitle it in the name of the trust. The state or county where you live will charge you a fee to make the change, but doing so can help your family avoid the lengthy and expensive probate procedure.
Other potential costs might include fees for specific tax planning or financial advice from a third party, executor fees to manage your estate after your death, or estate planning lawyer fees to help fulfill the terms of your estate plan. If you do want to update your estate plan later, such as when a child is born or a divorce occurs, these changes may also require you to pay a fee.
Estate planning and life insurance
An estate plan, including a will or, if appropriate, creating a trust, helps ensure that your wishes are followed after your death, makes the process of distributing your assets easier (and less expensive) for your loved ones, and can avoid probate in most cases. Combined with life insurance, you can make sure you protect your assets and provide for your loved ones in the future.
Haven Life offers an easy way to buy high-quality, affordable term life insurance online. Start by getting a free online life insurance quote today.
About Paul DughiRead more by Paul Dughi
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.
Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.
MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.
Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus
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