Justin, I met with two different attorneys in the past couple of weeks to discuss estate planning, and both recommended that I create a trust to avoid probate court. However, one of the attorneys quoted me a price that was double what the other attorney quoted. Can you explain why there would be so much difference in cost from one attorney to the next? – John
John, I can’t speak for the particular attorneys you may have met with, but I can say with confidence that all trusts are not created equal. As an extreme example that would seem obvious to most people, you could get a “basic” trust online for a few hundred dollars and you could get a “complex” trust from a big-building law firm for closer to $10,000. No one would argue that those two trusts would be of equal value, and most people would believe the difference in cost to be justified.
Less obvious, though, might be the difference between a “simple” trust prepared by a general practice attorney and a “simple” trust offered by a firm that actually specializes in estate planning. When it comes to writing a trust, the devil is in the details.
I could fill a book with examples of trusts that proved to be dramatic disappointments when it mattered most. Actually, I did—it’s called You Need A Plan, and you can order a free copy at YourPlanMatters.com. Chapter three specifically focuses on what can go wrong with a poorly planned trust. Another resource through which you can research this topic is the website of the National Elder Law Foundation, nelf.org.
When a trust fails a family, the cost is always far greater than the difference in the fee paid to save a little money on estate planning. This is too important to leave to chance. Don’t forget, in my offices, a no-charge strategy session with one of our attorneys is just a phone call away.