Estate planning is an important milestone in an adult’s life. Regardless of wealth and status, everyone benefits from estate planning, to ensure that personal belongings and other assets are controlled by and go to the right people, minimizing unnecessary stress on families at a difficult time.
As you prepare for the future, you may be wondering how much an estate plan costs in Chicago and surrounding suburbs.Many factors can affect the cost of an estate plan, including the complexity of your family dynamics, type and amount of assets, and the estate documents that best fit your requirements.
If you are shopping for an attorney based upon the cost, it’s critical to understand the type of estate planning documents you need and the quality of service you’re receiving.
Through this guide, you’ll learn some of the costs associated with estate planning and how to evaluate your different estate planning options.
What Does a Typical Estate Plan Include?
The cost of your estate plan largely depends on the complexity of your estate and the documents you need. Here are the essential estate planning documents many people need:
- Will: Instructs who receives your tangible possessions and other assets after your death, plus directions for the care of minor children and disposition of remains.
- HIPAA Authorization: Allows designated people access to your healthcare providers.
- Power of attorney for health care: Appoints an agent (a proxy) to make personal and medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.
- Power of attorney for property: Appoints an agent (a proxy) to manage your finances, should you become incapacitated.
- Revocable living trust: A Trust established by the grantor (its creator) during his or her lifetime, with terms that can be amended (changed) or revoked (canceled) at any time during the grantor’s life.
- Irrevocable trust: A Trust that cannot be amended or revoked by its grantor, either because of its terms or because the grantor has died.
What Happens If You Don’t Plan for Your Estate?
The risk and cost associated with delaying your estate plan far outweigh the potential time and money you’d save in the short term. Pay now or pay more later — it’s your choice.
The truth is that you don’t know when you’ll die or be unable to make decisions regarding your future. At a moment’s notice, your family could be left scrambling to clean up the mess.
Some risks of procrastinating about your estate plan include:
- Nasty family feuds over your personal items
- Distant or undeserving relatives end up with assets
- Confusion over what happens if a parent, sibling, child or you become incapacitated with little warning
- You or your estate needlessly pays taxes which relatively simple planning could have prevented.
- An expensive, lengthy and dramatic probate battle erupts among family.
- You put undue stress on your loved ones because they lack knowledge of your wishes.
You or your estate needlessly pays taxes which relatively simple planning could have prevented.
An expensive, lengthy and dramatic probate battle breaks out among family.
You put undue stress on your loved ones because they lack knowledge of your wishes.
What Does Probate Cost in Illinois?
Probate is a legal process where the court validates your Will; appoints an executor to distribute your estate per your instructions; and pay any taxes.
Not having a Will when you die lengthens, complicates and adds costs to the probate process. The court determines how your assets will be divided, pursuant to a statutory intestacy formula, appoints your estate administrator and requires surety bonds be paid. It opens the door to potential claimants on your estate.
One goal of estate planning is to avoid probate, which can cost your family tens of thousands of dollars if a legal battle ensues. In Illinois, basic probate, without any disputes, can easily cost between $4,000 and $6,000. Add any complications and the legal costs can skyrocket.
The estate typically covers many of the costs, but families must front hundreds or thousands to initiate the process.
How Much Does Estate Planning Cost in Illinois?
Now that you understand what basic documents are included in an estate plan and the cost of procrastination, it’s time to talk about the legal cost of planning.
The price of estate plans can range from a few hundred dollars to $6,000 and more, depending on the quality of the service and complexity of your needs. Many law firms concentrating on estate planning charge flat-rate fees for basic estate plans, or at least provide a target range. Basic revocable living Trusts may be included in a flat-fee estate planning package costing between $2,500 and $6,000. Revocable living Trusts help you bypass the costly and public probate process and can evolve into testamentary Trusts that allow you to control your assets long after you have departed this world.
While complex Trusts often fall outside the scope of a basic estate plan, and can add thousands of dollars to your estate plan, they may save your estate exponentially greater sums in the long run. A professional estate-planning attorney will walk you through the considerations you want to make to ensure you’re only paying for the documents you need.
Some accounts allow for individuals to be named as beneficiaries and can be distributed without probate. Typically 401k, pension, IRA, Roth IRA and insurance plans name beneficiaries. You may also name a Trust as beneficiary, providing the opportunity to better control assets and anticipate potential contingencies.
Online services such as Quicken WillMaker and LegalZoom are cheaper alternatives for creating basic documents like Wills. However, these services may miss key considerations for Will planning and complex estate plans that could cost your beneficiaries down the road.
How to Choose an Illinois Estate Planning Attorney
Creating an estate plan isn’t a one-time event. Your estate plan is a living document that may require updates at different stages of life.
Having a well-informed attorney who understands your family dynamics and stays up-to-date on Illinois tax and estate laws can help you make the right decisions that preserve your estate for loved ones.
Here are some critical tips for selecting a trusted and professional estate-planning attorney who fits your needs:
Choose an attorney who concentrates his or her practice on estate planning. The legal field is complex and far-reaching, and it helps to have a knowledgeable estate planning attorney on your side. You wouldn’t hire an electrician to fix a plumbing issue. In the same vein, most people planning their estate are best served by an attorney or law firm that concentrates on estate planning and estate law, who will draft the right documents for you and advise you on how to maximize the value of the documents.
Be wary of sole practitioners who are not experienced in estate planning. They may offer to draft your estate documents for a discounted price because they don’t typically do this type of work and need business. If the quality of the work in such instances is sub-par, you or your beneficiaries are the ones who will end up paying.
You can often evaluate a law firm’s quality by visiting their websites. View the testimonials of their clients. Referrals are often the best way to find the right firm. Also, how many years has the lawyer or firm been concentrating in this field of law?
You don’t want to be left high and dry when you need to update your estate plan or an important tax update rolls out. When you meet an attorney, ask questions such as:
- How do you communicate tax changes to your clients?
- How do I keep my estate plan documents up to date?
- What if I have questions in the future?
For more than two decades, Matlin Law Group and its predecessor firm have provided estate planning services to many thousands of clients living in Chicago, Chicago’s North Shore, Northbrook and other surrounding suburbs. Through our compassionate estate planning approach, we take the time to understand your family dynamics and create estate plans custom-fit to your needs.
Our goal is to give you peace of mind knowing that your affairs will be handled correctly in the event of a potential incapacity and certain death, either of which can happen in an unanticipated moment.
Schedule your free consultation today.