It is never too early to begin thinking about your legacy and establishing your estate plan. Estate plans can be elaborate but do not have to be. They vary widely and so can the estate planning costs associated. Estate planning costs should include four key documents and may become more involved if trusts need to be drafted. The four key documents include:
1. Last Will and Testament
The most commonly known estate planning document is a will. A will details out how you would like your belongings distributed after you have died.
2. Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare (Living Will and Healthcare POA)
A healthcare power of attorney (HPOA) is a legal document where you name someone to make decisions on your behalf when you are incapacitated. In a Living Will, you document your wishes regarding specific medical procedures you do or do not want. The Advance Directive activates when you can’t voice your own opinion (i.e. when you are in an irreversible coma). It states your wishes and explains in what cases you want caregivers to attempt to prolong your life or stop life-sustaining measures.
3. Financial Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is similar to a health care power of attorney. A financial power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to make financial decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. You can choose when this goes into effect; whether its immediately, at a certain date in the future, or only under specific circumstances. Without a financial power of attorney in place, no one will be able to step in and pay bills for you, make investment decisions, or handle other financial decisions.
4. Living Trust
Many people set up living trusts as part of their estate plan. Living trusts allow you to hold your assets in the trust and designate who they go to upon your death, bypassing probate court. Trusts can be much more involved and detailed than this but on a basic level, they can serve a simple purpose. The costs of estate planning do increase when including a trust.
How Much Does it Cost?
In order to complete these four key documents, you should use a lawyer who specializes in estate planning. Estate planning costs can vary depending on complexity. Completing documents 1-3 listed about should cost you in the $1,500-2,000 range. However, for more extensive estate plans including trusts, you can expect to pay upwards of $4,000 or more.
You can certainly get estate planning documents more cheaply, but estate planning is no exception to the rule that you get what you pay for. We have helped many clients clean up the messes left from poorly drafted estate planning documents they got from online document generation businesses or attorneys who didn’t specialize in estate planning. So don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Don’t have your estate planning done by a computer program or someone that doesn’t have the knowledge and expertise to do it right.
When you are using an estate planning attorney, be sure to understand how you will pay for their services. You will likely pay one of two ways – either a flat fee or hourly. At Smith Barid, we like to charge out services as a flat fee model. You know exactly what to expect, and there are no hidden fees or inflated hourly charges to worry about.
At Smith Barid, we are estate planning experts who want to help you with your estate planning needs. Located in Savannah, GA, we are here to help you today. Contact us to set up an appointment.