How much should basic estate planning documents cost to prepare?

August 14, 2014
We will need a will, a trust, a PA and a healthcare PA. We have moderate income and assets.

Advisor answers

Congrats on taking care of something that many people put off indefinitely.

A basic estate plan usually consists of wills, (one for each spouse), powers of attorney (one for each), medical powers of attorney (one for each) and medical directives (one for each). Some basic estate plans may include a community property or separate property agreement as well. The price range for a basic estate plan is wide; I have seen attorneys charge anywhere between $800 to $4,000.

I recommend that before...

The cost for the preparation and filing of the documents you asked about will vary depending on where you live. Documents will cost more in large, urban areas than in other locations around the country. An attorney in the metropolitan Boston I refer clients to drafted the same documents for me you are asking about. My discounted price was $2000.00 I would expect to pay less than that if the work was being done for us in the western part of Massachusetts.

Before engaging an attorney to draft these documents, be sure you are working with...

John Buerger

John Buerger

MSFS, CFP®

I'm in California and here the fees are about the same. A full estate plan including a living trust would cost $1500-$2500. Pay any less than that and I begin to question the quality of the law the lawyer will produce for you - and the living trust is just that: custom crafted law to replace the default laws of the state for transferring assets upon your death.

Other answers here are very clear and detailed so won't repeat.

I will add that the will, powers of attorney and health care directives are all essential for most everybody. They...

Guy Baker

Guy Baker

CLU, ChFC, AEP, CFP®

The price is not a set amount. Different attorneys value their time in different ways. In general, what you are asking for could be between $1000 and $2500. But if you shop around you might be able to get it for less. You might also try to look on the internet. There are websites the will help you do this without an attorney.

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For very basic paperwork, check out the Nolo website. I have seen clients successfully get what they need done using the resources there, at the very minimum as a way to begin the process and to get something in place. As your situation becomes more complicated, you can look around for an estate planning attorney and interview several, asking about cost and other issues that are of concern.

You will need a healthcare POA (Advance Directive) for every state in which you spend time (since you could have an emergency while on a trip, for ...