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How Much Does Estate Planning Cost?

An estate plan can take care of those you leave behind and provide you with peace of mind that your assets will be handled wisely.  The cost of estate planning varies considerably from case to case in California.  Learning more about the estate planning process will help you gain a better understanding of how to budget properly for the golden years.

When a loved one passes, it is an unimaginably difficult time.  It feels unpleasant to think about death, let alone prepare for your own passing with effective estate planning.  However, it helps to see a potential plan as an opportunity to ease the burden on those who will remember the legacy you leave to the world.

When relatives fail to provide concrete plans about how to handle their assets, they could leave behind a confusing and complicated ordeal for their loved ones.  A grieving family does not need the additional stress of trying to guess the final wishes of the deceased.  That’s why an estate plan is invaluable to those who need to carry on.

Weiner Law can assist you with the process of creating a plan to ensure your assets pass into the right hands when the time comes.  Every family is different, and we work closely with our clients to tailor an estate plan to those specific needs.  When the beneficiaries of your estate need support and guidance, our team will still be here to safeguard your legacy.

Is Estate Planning Necessary in California?

Many people ask why estate planning is such an essential end-of-life provision.  However, a better question might be, “Will estate planning help those I leave behind?”  The short answer is a resounding, “Yes.”

Frequently people are under the false impression that estate planning is only for the affluent, but this is not the case at all..  Families at every stage of life and with varying levels of assets consult with our lawyers about their estate planning requirements.  Assets come in all forms, and you need to know who will be taking care of those assets in the future, from stock market portfolios to houses or cars, even your personal affects deserve to be planned for.

An estate plan protects you and your family in the unfortunate event of incapacity or a loved one’s passing.  It protects your assets from creditors and lawsuits while you are still living and prevents family members from enduring legal battles over the asset distribution process without a clear plan.  If you want to minimize California estate and transfer taxes and protect the inheritance you have worked so hard to give your loved ones, you will need a sound estate planning strategy.

A lack of an estate plan can lead to more taxes on the transfer of your assets, your estate at death, or other collateral issues where expensive fees can add up, leaving far less for the estate’s heirs to take home.  It is especially important to have a will in place if a parent dies prematurely.  If there are no clear wishes expressed and no designated guardian, California’s court system will decide how and where the children live and who takes care of them.

How Does Estate Planning Work?

a couple talking to their attorney about estate planning

Before you consult a Weiner Law estate attorney to help you prepare a plan, consider the basics of estate planning in California.  Below we cover the documentation, fees, and savings considerations.

Administrative Paperwork

The required documents vary between specific circumstances, but there are standard protocols that you can expect to find when you consult a California attorney, including those at Weiner Law:

A Will

The last will and testament outlines how a decedent’s estate needs to distribute its possessions and assets.  Without a will, family members may claim entitlement to certain items, and disagreements are common.  A verbal expression of your wishes means very little without a written and signed will if the matter goes to court.

An Advance Healthcare Directive

Like a power of attorney document, the healthcare directive is the final word on your medical condition and treatments if you cannot express these wishes yourself due to incapacity.  It permits medical professionals to share details about your health with your family and loved ones so that they understand the process that follows.

A Trust

A trust is not a requirement, but it is an excellent idea if you want to safeguard the management and distribution of your assets to heirs without the hassle of a regular will.  Trusts are not subject to high taxes like other inheritance forms.  It may also save beneficiaries the costs and headache of probate court.

A person can create an irrevocable trust, or a revocable living trust.  A person must create a revocable living trust while they are still alive, detailing how assets should transfer to your beneficiaries upon your death.  A trust’s creators may alter or cancel the revocable trust without additional approval if necessary.

Creating a trust requires a few different documents:

  • Certificate of Trust: It serves as proof of ownership and protects personal information from financial institutions.
  • Assignment of Personal Property: The signed document lists all property without a title and states that the original trust owner is transferring these items to the appointed trustee.
  • Financial Power of Attorney: This is a document that appoints someone trusted to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.

Weiner Law Evaluation

Before making crucial estate planning decisions or appointing people to handle your assets, why not consult with our legacy team?  A Weiner Law attorney can begin finalizing your estate plan with a deep dive into the details and legal parameters before you sign anything.  We can also help you state your requests clearly and undeniably to prevent misinterpretations and make sure the documentation is legally binding.

After an initial meeting, our estate planning attorney will typically request a meeting to sign off all the documents.  You will also review a final list of assets and instructions that you can revise if your situation changes or you change your mind about certain items.  The final step is a confirmation meeting to finalize the asset transfer details and beneficiary assignments with your attorney.

Our team is also happy to answer any additional questions or concerns during these meetings and process further transfers whenever the need arises.  If you want more support, our estate planning attorney can handle any request or concern directly.  Contact our California law office for more details.

Estate Planning Fees

a clock with dollars below depicting hourly rate

So, how much does estate planning cost in California?  There is no one-size-fits-all answer.  The expense will depend on each case’s unique concerns, your desires for the estate, and how you want to curate your legacy.

Some estate planning lawyers will charge a flat rate, while others will charge an hourly rate:

  • A Flat Rate is a total fee that a lawyer will request to help you devise your estate plan. In California, this rate may not include all documents and services.  Check with the attorney before you commit to their services.
  • An Hourly Rate is what an attorney charges per hour on your case, and it will depend on experience and qualifications. In California, this fee often changes according to how extensive your estate plan is and how you want to proceed.

Our Weiner Law attorneys can help you to figure out the costs upfront for better financial decisions.

How to Save on Estate Planning Fees

At the beginning of the estate planning process, one important step is to choose the right attorney. Weiner Law is a great option in California, so feel free to research your options thoroughly by scheduling an evaluation with us.  Trustworthy lawyers like ours will be upfront about the costs involved and provide a detailed letter explaining the fee arrangement.

A basic understanding of the estate planning process in California will help you go into each meeting with a firm idea of the expected outcome and the documents you will need. Ask questions and express any concerns you have about the process.  You can also use Weiner Law’s complimentary first evaluation to inquire about an estimate on how long the estate planning process will take.

An essential takeaway from any meeting is having everything agreed upon in writing.  For example, Weiner Law will provide you with a signed letter that outlines fees, documents, confidentiality requirements, and dispute guidelines for your estate plan.

Estate planning is a sensitive and specialized field, whether you have an extensive asset bundle or not.  A professional from Weiner Law will handle your estate planning process with the care and attention to detail it needs to carry your legacy forward.

Professional Estate Planning in California with Weiner Law

The attorneys at Weiner Law respect the personal nature of estate planning, and every client brings us a unique set of expectations and requirements.  Our complimentary evaluation ensures that you understand what to expect before beginning your estate planning process, so call us to schedule your appointment today.  We do our utmost to get to know you so that we can help you make great decisions on behalf of those you will leave behind one day.

A little preparation now will go a long way when you say goodbye, so start your estate planning with us today.  Contact the attorneys at Weiner Law or call us at 858-252-4768 for more information on making your legacy count.

About Daniel Weiner

Daniel Weiner is a US and UK licensed attorney, based in San Diego, who provides trust administration and estate planning services to families and individuals across California. Dan guides his clients through the often confusing maze of financial and legal decisions to create plans that ensure the well-being of their families and the accomplishment of cherished family goals.


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