Many people do not like to contemplate their death and in the case of avoiding writing a Last Will and Testament, this is almost always to the detriment of those left behind. The two most frequent excuses for not paying an attorney to draft an estate plan are: 1. “If I write a Will, I’ll die,” and 2. “It’s too expensive.”
As the saying goes, “No one gets out alive,” so the superstition needs to be thrown in the trash and you should get an estate plan drafted if you consider yourself a responsible adult and if you love those you are going to leave behind. Now that that lame excuse is out of the way, we can discuss the cost of paying an attorney to draft your estate plan.
As of the date of this writing, estate plans can be had from licensed attorney in the DFW area for around $500 per person. These figures will surely vary based on where you live, as well as the size of your estate, but if you look around enough there are competent attorneys that will prepare your estate plan for this extremely reasonable amount. While it is not the $99 special available on do-it-yourself websites, it is well worth the money in the scheme of things. The costs of drafting your own estate plan far overshadow the short-term savings you get from taking the cheap route.
I’ve seen individuals with thousands and thousands of dollars spent on hobbies leave behind shops full of equipment, only for it to be distributed to heirs they didn’t intend because they didn’t properly execute their estate plan. The ‘disinherited’ heirs come knocking on the widow’s door asking for their share, which they would not have received if the decedent had gone to a lawyer instead of going online.
A “simple” estate plan includes a Last Will and Testament, a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney, and Medical Power of Attorney, a Declaration of Guardian in the Event of Incapacity, a HIPAA Release, and a Directive to Physician. These cover all the bases from a hospital visit, to a short-term incapacity, to the possibility of a guardianship, and wrapping up your estate after you’ve left this mortal coil.
Your attorney cannot predict the future, but he can help you to make an effective plan based on your current circumstances. He can do more than provide just a fill-in-the-blank answer to the most important set of documents you’ll ever likely seek a lawyer to draft. Stop putting it off and get an estate plan prepared.