Worries about the costs of estate planning are normal. Unfortunately, these worries often lead to prolonged procrastination.
Many Americans let their concerns about costs stop them from formulating an estate plan.
In fact, less than half of Americans have a will. Without a will, you are putting your estate and your loved ones in a bad position once you pass.
The best way to avoid letting your concerns get the best of you is to understand estate planning costs better.
Many people assume that hiring an estate planning attorney is only for the rich, but that’s simply not true.
The experienced lawyers at Massingill Attorneys and Counselors at Law can draft and execute an effective estate plan for you at a reasonable price.
A well-crafted estate plan can save your estate and your family significant amounts of time and money.
Avoiding the risks and expense of a drawn-out probate process alone can make your upfront estate planning lawyer cost well worth the money.
What Costs to Expect Without a Will
When a person dies without a will, their estate is considered intestate. Intestate estates are distributed to family members according to Texas intestate succession laws.
Some people think they have a relatively simple estate and that the default laws will work fine. Operating under this assumption can be a costly mistake.
To start, the intestate succession laws in Texas are more complex than most people realize.
Common situations, such as having stepchildren or even grandchildren, can complicate the process of dividing your estate.
This complexity can lead to significant conflict between the surviving family members that could have been prevented with a bit of planning.
On top of the extra time and heartache, tangible monetary costs are associated with the probate process for intestate estates.
There are two primary questions to consider when contemplating the costs of not having an estate plan:
- How much does probate court cost?
- How much does a probate lawyer cost?
The answer to these questions will illustrate how costs can begin to add up and why planning ahead saves your estate and your loved ones money in the long run.
How Much Does Probate Court Cost?
Operating the probate court system costs money. To make up for these costs, the courts and other professionals involved in the probate process charge fees.
Even for simple estates, the cost of going through probate without a will can be thousands of dollars. Larger or more complicated estates can cost even more.
How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost?
If you don’t create a will, your estate may need to pay for a probate attorney.
For example, if your heirs disagree about how the estate should be divided, an application to determine heirship might become necessary.
While determining heirship, the court will appoint an attorney to represent unknown potential heirs. The costs to employ this attorney will come out of the estate.
Additionally, your heirs may need to hire a probate attorney to fight creditor claims or disgruntled heirs.
Though their attorney fees will not come directly from the estate, the amount they spend protecting their interests will reduce the added benefit of inheriting property from your estate.
Conflicts over inheritances can cost all parties involved a lot of money. A clear will can prevent these conflicts.
Cost Savings of Having an Estate Plan
Even a simple will, can save your estate a lot of money in the long run. To begin, it will reduce the potential for conflicts among beneficiaries.
Challenging a will is tricky in Texas, and attempts to invalidate wills are often unsuccessful.
Further, a well-written will clearly states who the beneficiaries are. This information saves the court time and reduces the likelihood that an outside attorney will need to be hired.
Avoiding the use of court resources saves your estate money.
Having a will also lets you choose the executor of your estate. The executor is the person who will engage in transactions on behalf of the estate and ensure assets are transferred to the correct beneficiaries.
Choosing a trusted executor who will do their job correctly and efficiently can save your estate time and money.
How Much Does an Estate Planning Lawyer Cost?
There are some upfront costs to hiring an estate planning lawyer. However, many people are surprised by how low the costs can be.
For example, Massingill has two reasonably priced plans to best suit your estate planning needs.
Ways an Estate Planning Lawyer Will Save You Money
Estate planning attorneys can save you money in several ways.
First, the best way to avoid potential conflict is to write a clear and comprehensive will. An experienced attorney will know what to look for and advise you on the best way to accomplish your goals.
Second, an attorney can structure your estate plan to avoid the most costly aspects of probate.
For example, choosing to have your estate administered independently can speed up the process and avoid the expensive oversight required during dependent administration.
Additionally, an attorney will ensure that your will complies with the law. A legal mistake can leave your will vulnerable to challenges.
Ultimately, a simple legal oversight has the potential to undermine the time and effort you put into developing an estate plan.
An experienced attorney can also recommend other cost-saving strategies, depending on your specific circumstances.
An Estate Planning Attorney at Massingill Can Help
If you decide that the benefits of hiring an estate planning lawyer outweigh the costs, Massingill is here to help you plan for the future.
Our goal is to make complex legal issues simple and approachable. We offer straightforward, flat-fee pricing and have experience in a broad range of estate planning matters.