Why You Need An Estate Plan
If you've gotten divorced - or are getting divorced - the last part of the job is creating an estate plan to help your children or loved ones after you're gone, and to protect your assets for their benefit.
Estate Planning – can I afford it? Is it worth it?
Traditional estate planning is expensive, costing upwards of several thousand dollars, and has mostly been utilized by people who have plenty of money to go around. I think estate planning is actually more important for people who aren’t rich, because they are the ones who really need help ensuring that there is something to pass on to their family after they die. So, my partner Erin Gallivan and I developed a series of low-cost flat fee options to give average people the chance to learn about estate planning and put simple protections in place for their families. The initial 1-hour meeting with Erin is $225. Then, depending on what we determine is right for you, the cost for drafting and executing the documents is between $250-$850.
What is Estate Planning?
If you want to decide how your property gets distributed, or if you want to protect your assets from creditors, or if you want to spare your loved ones the time and expense of the probate court process, estate planning is essential. When you die, all your property and assets go to your “estate”. Your estate is then managed by an “executor” (usually a family member) under the supervision of the probate court. There is a filing fee and lots of paperwork. The court will direct that all the debts be paid first, and if there is anything left over, how it will be distributed. The probate court process takes at least six months, often longer, and requires a lot of work on the part of the person appointed executor. Unfortunately by the end of the process there often isn’t even any money left to go to the beneficiaries. However, it is not always necessary to go through probate court. There are many strategies to ensure your property and assets pass to your family with minimal or no probate court involvement. The most basic strategy is to name beneficiaries for all of your bank accounts. If you do this, the bank account will pass directly to the beneficiary and will not have to go through probate court.
How Does Estate Planning Help Me?
Estate planning is also important if you want to direct your own end-of-life care, or decide who will make those decisions for you if you are unable to do so. The flat fee packages all include an Advance Health Care Directive, as well as a medical authorization. Lastly, all the flat fee options include a Power of Attorney to authorize someone to act for you with regard to non-medical issues if you become incompetent.
How Much Does It Cost?
After the initial meeting cost of $225, the Individual Will Package is $250, the Individual Will and Trust Package is $450, the Couple Will Package is $450, and the couple Will and Trust Package is $850. In addition, there is a $450 package for the transfer of any real estate as part of the process.