How Much Does Estate Planning Cost?

One of the primary concerns when thinking about hiring someone to do a service for you is how much will it all cost. Here is a breakdown of what I think are customary and reasonable fees charged by a skilled attorney to create estate planning documents for you. Obviously geographic location is relevant, as for example, even a simple will created by an attorney located in New York City, may cost the same as a full estate planning package created by an attorney in South Florida.

For a single individual, with no estate tax concerns, who wants to have a simple will drafted, I would say a reasonable rate would range from $1,100 to $3,000 depending on the dispositive terms of the trust or will. For example if the client wants the devise to be left to a trust to continue for the benefit of minor children, rather than an outright distribution upon death, the higher range mentioned would be a reasonable fee.

For a married couple who want documents drafted for both spouses, with no estate tax planning such as marital deduction formulas utilizing a qtip trust or bypass credit shelter trust, a reasonable fee for an attorney to prepare the documents would be somewhere in the range of $2,500 to $4,000 depending on the value of the assets involved and complexity of the dispositive terms requested by the client. This package should include pour over wills, if a revocable trust has been chosen by the client as the primary testamentary vehicle to pass his or her assets upon death.

For a married couple with assets approaching the estate tax exemption limits for one of the spouses or with assets nearing the combined exclusion amounts for both couples ( the current lifetime exclusion for an individual in 2023 is $12.92 million dollars) an estate plan utilizing a combination of a marital trust and credit shelter trust will probably range from anywhere from $7,000 all the way to $20,000 depending on the experience level of the attorney and the number of trusts and other documents that are required for that particular plan.