What is an estate plan? It could be a few handwritten pages stating who gets your assets when you die. It could be DIY cross your fingers hope it works Legal Zoom documents, or it could be a set of comprehensive living trust documents written by your personal estate planning attorney just for you and your family.
The cost of a California estate plan depends on the type of estate plan you need. The main factor is whether you have probate assets or not.
No Probate Assets - Will
If you don't own a home, and if your assets are well below the California probate threshold (currently $184,500), then your estate should not go through probate, and you can probably get away with a Will instead of a Living Trust.
But you will still need a Durable Power of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directive and HIPAA to authorize family or trusted friends to help you with your financial and health care decisions if you become incapacitated.
Probate Assets - Living Trust
If you own your home, you will want a living trust estate plan so your family can avoid probate. Read more about California probate and how a living trust can avoid probate.
A living trust estate plan should include:
- Living Trust
- Schedule of Trust Property
- Certification of Trust
- Pour-Over Will
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Advance Health Care Directive and HIPAA and
- Grant Deed to transfer title of your home to your trust.
If one of those documents is missing or not done correctly, your estate plan is not complete, and you risk not having the full protection you need.
DIY or Not
If you don't have many assets and no real property, and you think you can write your own estate planning documents, you might be able to get away with DIY estate planning documents from a document website like Legal Zoom or Wills & Trusts. These websites allow you to create documents on the cheap. Will they work? Fingers crossed.
If you own your home and need a living trust, using a DIY document website is risky. Your estate planning documents need to be cohesive and work together. There are too many moving parts and too much margin for error to make this a DIY project. We have seen way too many Legal Zoom estate plans that did not work.
Every now and then a client or their financial advisor think they can save estate planning costs by using a California Transfer on Death Deed, instead of a living trust. Good luck. For many, California Transfer on Death Deeds are a false promise.
Estate Planning Attorney
Using an estate planning attorney is usually your best bet. Not with an attorney that does estate planning as a side-hustle, but with an attorney and law firm that focuses their practice on estate planning and trust administration.
Three things to look for when choosing an estate planning attorney.
- Does the attorney know what he or she is doing?
- Will the attorney be around to review and update your estate plan? Many solo attorneys are here today and gone tomorrow.
- Costs. What does the attorney charge and how does he or she charge for working with you? Does they attorney bill you when you ask a question?
Cost for a Living Trust Estate Plan
A comprehensive living trust estate plan can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $7,500. The price range is based on how complicated you make it and how complicated the attorney and the law firm make it.
The lowest prices are usually from new attorneys or estate plan side hustle attorneys or for one size fits all estate plans. The highest prices are usually from big law firms or attorneys in big cities.
Our fee for a customized living trust estate plan is generally $2,500 - $3,000 plus costs. These are mid-range fees for an experienced estate planning law firm in the Sacramento area, but they are low fees for the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Because we can work virtually with clients throughout the state, we work with many Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego clients and their financial advisors who love how simply and efficiently we can do their estate planning.
Click here for a comparison between DIY document websites, other law firms and our simple and comprehensive approach.
We'd be glad to talk to you about how we can simply and efficiently give you peace of mind by helping you get your estate planning done.
If you are a financial advisor, financial planner or accountant and you are looking for dependable estate planning attorneys to help your California clients simply and efficiently do their estate planning in a way that makes you look good, click here to learn more.