The Elrod Firm


Aren’t All Estate Plans the Same?

Justin, One of my neighbors recently had a trust prepared, and he told me he paid $1,000 for it. Another friend of mine had her trust done last month, and she said it cost her $3,000. What could justify the difference in fees? Aren’t all trusts pretty much the same? – Robert

Robert, I can’t say specifically what might differ between your neighbor’s estate plan and your friend’s plan, but I can unequivocally say that all trusts and all estate plans are definitely not the same.

Not all trusts properly plan for all possible contingencies, but a good trust will. A good trust will plan for situations where one of your heirs dies before you. A good trust will look out for minors who might inherit in unexpected situations. A good trust will protect your heirs from legal problems, like bankruptcy and creditor issues, divorce and marriage problems, and lawsuits. A good trust will prevent your heirs from losing their government benefits if they become disabled through some tragic illness or accident.

A thorough estate plan will extend beyond a trust, too. A good estate plan will include thorough power of attorney documents for both financial and healthcare matters. A good estate plan will include a medical records release to deal with HIPAA. A good estate plan will include a living will or advance directive.

Finally, even the best trust won’t work if it’s not properly funded. A thorough estate plan will include help and instruction on placing all assets in the trust in the right way so that the trust actually works the way you expect it to work. One of the biggest problems I see when reviewing estate plans is a lack of proper funding.

If you have a plan but you’re not sure it does everything it should, or if you’re just getting started in the planning process, we have offices in Springdale, Bentonville, and Fort Smith. For more information on estate planning and elder law issues please call our central number of 479.750.1101 and we will get you directed to the office nearest you!

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