One of the most common questions asked during our free LifeCare Planning Workshops is “How much will it cost for an estate plan?” or “What are your Fees for an Estate Plan?” The answer is always the same, “it depends.” It depends on what needs to be done. But, proper estate planning needs to be viewed as an investment. The cost is what if you haven’t set things up properly or the cost of not working with the right attorney.
The Cost of Not Planning
There are some simple statistics that help illustrate the cost of not engaging in proper estate planning. The first is the cost of probate. There are numerous sources that site the cost of assets going through probate as 3-5% of the total assets. With a proper plan in place, you can avoid Michigan probate.
Long-Term Care Costs in Michigan
The average cost over all of Michigan for a nursing home is $8,084. If the planning I suggest can help save months and months of nursing home costs, then is the investment worth it or does it make more sense to pay $8,084 per month until your family runs out of money.
Missing The VA Benefits You Are Entitled To
Many families report that they wish they had entered our office years ago, because they could have been receiving up to $2,120 per month, tax free for a number of years had they engaged in our services years ago. Unfortunately, they either spoke with the wrong lawyer, found the wrong information on-line or spoke to the wrong family or friend, who led them astray.
Leaving Family Members Unprotected
Most of the estate plans that I review leave everything outright to their loved ones. This could cost them their own inheritance. What happens if you leave everything to your daughter and she then gets divorced, where do the assets go? To the spouse. What happens if she were to pass away, where do the assets go? All to the spouse. Instead of leaving your children pillowcases of money, what if you could protect your children from the outside environment, the divorces, lawsuits, student loans? Having everything going to them when they reach a certain age does not protect them.
The Cost of Choosing the Wrong Lawyer
Not all lawyers are created equal. It’s unfortunate. There are lawyers and legal plans that prepare free wills, powers of attorney for people (UAW Legal Plan). Unfortunately, you get what you paid for. Just like if you needed heart surgery, you’d want a heart surgeon instead of a family doctor…estate planning and elder law is no different.
Can you price shop and find someone who will do a cheaper trust, will, power of attorney or even promise you VA qualification or Medicaid qualification? Sure….but you need to ask yourself why are they cheaper? Is it apples to apples comparison? Most likely not. Are they a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA)? Do they teach elder law at law school? Have they written a book on the subject? Are they a 10.0 rated lawyer on Avvo?
By engaging with an attorney who is not an expert in the area you are putting your life’s work at risk. You deserve better. Estate planning, elder law, and asset protection legal planning are serious business and should be treated as such.