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  • Northern Virginia Trusts & Estates

Estate Planning on a Budget

If you are like many people in this economy, you may have put off doing any estate planning because of the cost. While this is understandable, there are ways you can plan your estate on a budget. Some of the ways you can effectively reduce estate planning costs include the following:

  1. Know what you need. Before you jump headlong into the estate planning process, it can be extremely helpful to know what types of estate documents you really need, and which ones you can do without until your finances are better. Talk to your estate planning attorney to determine which estate planning documents are essential for you, given your current status.

  2. When you talk to an estate planning attorney, don’t be afraid to talk about costs right up front. Ask whether your estate planning attorney charges by the hour—and if so, how much—or whether he or she offers a flat-fee service. If the charges are hourly, ask about how long the attorney expects your estate planning to take. Ask on the phone whether the estate planning attorney offers a free consultation.

  3. It can be to your advantage to go with an attorney who offers a flat fee, simply because there will be no surprises on your end.

  4. Ask your chosen estate planning attorney what documents and information he or she will require from you, then be prepared when you arrive with all necessary paperwork. The less time your estate planning attorney has to spend gathering your information, the less money you will spend. Also, make sure you have firm answers to the questions you will be asked; should you change your mind once the documents are drafted, you will certainly pay more.

What About Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Estate Planning?

Although the argument can be made that any estate planning is better than no estate planning, mistakes can be made in do-it-yourself (DIY) wills and other estate documents which can totally alter the outcome—and not in a good way. Even if your current financial situation seems pretty basic, there are plenty of things that can go wrong, that a person without a legal education and background simply wouldn’t know about.

Making one of these serious mistakes can end up costing your heirs much more than you saved by preparing your estate documents yourself. And, would you really want something as important as who the guardian of your children will be to be challenged simply because you made a mistake in preparation?  So, while you can certainly accomplish an estate plan on a budget, doing it yourself could result in:

  1. Serious errors which would negate all your careful planning;

  2. A plan which might not be legally valid;

  3. A plan which won’t incorporate the estate planning tips and legal advice offered by an experienced estate planning attorney;

  4. An estate plan which doesn’t really meet your needs;

  5. Problems which occur when changes in a specific law affect your entire estate plan.

In the end, taking the time to work alongside an experienced estate planning attorney who understands and respects that you are on a budget is the best way to create a customized estate plan which will meet your needs. Contact us today to get started!

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