Just like retirement planning itself, estate planning can be a complicated endeavor. This could be one reason many older Americans are reluctant to avoid or put off this process as long as possible. Another reason people avoid them is because they can be costly. If you’ve accumulated a lot of wealth and assets throughout your life, it may seem like high estate planning costs are inevitable. But it will also depend heavily on your geographic location, the experience of your attorney and your general needs. The good news is that there is always a way to cut back on these costs and make the process more manageable for you and your family. Let’s take a look.
Understand Your Own Needs
The first step to cutting estate planning costs is to simply understand your own needs. A good way to start would be to do some research on what’s involved in the estate planning process and speak with a financial advisor. At the very least, you’re going to want to have an advance directive for health care, a will, and an attorney. During the estate planning process, your attorney will play a pivotal role in organizing documents, preparing them, and ensuring they’re implemented correctly. However, on the other hand, an advance directive for health care is something you may be able to do on your own.
Address The Concern Up Front
If cost is a concern for you, you should be upfront about it. Before you even meet with an estate planning attorney, speak with them over the phone until you understand exactly how they charge. Your initial consultation will almost always be free, so it’s important to take this time to understand what you’re actually paying for. Some lawyers charge a flat rate for their estate planning services while others charge by the hour.
Choose A Good Attorney
Generally speaking, there are two important things to take into consideration when choosing an estate planning attorney: rapport and experience. Your attorney needs enough experience to be able to guide you through the estate planning process and finish any paperwork in a timely and efficient manner. Rapport is also important because you want to be working with someone who will be able to understand your situation and always work towards your best interest. Estate planning usually involves discussions about finances, family relationships, and mortality, all of which would be difficult to discuss with an inexperienced attorney.
Always Be Prepared
With all of this being said, it’s also important that you do your own research and don’t rely on your attorney for everything. Think about it this way: the more time your attorney spends gathering paperwork or information that you could’ve gotten, the more you’re going to be paying for their services. As a general rule of thumb, the more efficient you are, the more money you’ll save.
Speak With A Financial Advisor
Estate planning is an important part of the wealth transfer process, but this will vary significantly from state to state and from person to person. Ultimately, you’re going to want to speak with a financial advisor to consult with you on ways to lessen the tax burden while improving the inheritance for the people you love and care most about. Although estate planning may seem like a stressful and time-consuming process, when you have the experience and expertise of a professional financial advisor on your side, it is much less so. If you’re concerned about the costs associated with estate planning, let us know and we’ll help you put a solid plan in place before getting started.