There’s been something nagging at you for a little while. Perhaps it’s actually been bothering you for quite some time: What happens to your loved ones when you die? More accurately, what happens to them after you die? Will they be taken care of? And are the people you’re leaving behind competent to deal with the financial issues they may have to face once you’re gone?
Think about this for a moment. If you have investments, bank accounts, cash, own real estate or possess art, jewelry and/or other personal property of value and there are people you’d like to leave them to, you absolutely must plan your estate. An estate attorney in Passaic County can help you draw up an effective estate plan, one that will carry out your intentions after you pass away, thereby ensuring that your money, property and possessions are passed on in the quantities you want to the people you choose. Of course, before hiring a lawyer, you’ll want to know how much hiring an estate attorney in Passaic County will cost.
What Factors Into the Cost?
There are many factors that impact what it costs to handle a legal matter. Planning an estate is no different. Developing a comprehensive estate plan usually requires a great deal of work and often a fair amount of creativity as well. Why? Well, contrary to what many people believe, planning an estate involves much more than simply drawing up a will or establishing a trust. While you may not request your estate attorney in Passaic County to draft more than a few documents, he or she must review all of your assets including any life insurance policies and retirement accounts (such as a 401(k) for example), real estate holdings and business ownership. Distribution of banking and retirement accounts, life insurance and residential and commercial property is each subject to various laws. So is the succession of ownership of your business.
There are even factors that occur after death which can impact how much your estate attorney in Passaic County may cost. The most common of these arises when someone claiming a connection to you contests the will, claiming that it is invalid on its face or should be declared invalid for other reasons. Defending your estate against a challenge to your will can be very time consuming and, depending on what your lawyer charges per hour, costly as well.
When you attempt to estimate the total cost of an estate attorney in Passaic County remember that it’s only anestimate. It is almost impossible for an estate lawyer to tell you exactly how much planning your estate, drawing up all the necessary documents and taking whatever other actions become necessary after your death are going to cost. There are, however, some general guidelines you can use to at least have some idea as to how much you and/or your estate will be spending on legal fees.
An estate attorney in Passaic County may or may not charge you for the first meeting you have together. If you are billed for this meeting, it will be for an agreed-upon price, either a flat fee or an hourly rate with a maximum.
You can learn a great deal from this meeting, both about the lawyer and your case. Do not, however, expect to receive free legal guidance sufficient for you to attempt to plan your estate without a lawyer (not a good idea even under the most favorable circumstances).
Review of estate assets
Depending on what you own (house, money, investments, business, etc), this too may be a very time consuming process. If you are very organized before meeting with your estate attorney in Passaic County, you will make the job of coordinating your estate easier and will reduce the frustration (not to mention potential cost) of dealing with your file. Remember, the idea is to allow your lawyer to record all of your assets so that preparing a will and other necessary documents will be a relatively simple exercise.
Planning your estate, not simply your will
Your estate attorney in Passaic County can help you make wise decisions about retirement planning, buying long-term care and life insurance, saving for college tuition for your offspring or grandchildren, even about setting aside sufficient sums for charitable contributions after you pass away. The attorney can also, if necessary, arrange to have your assets appraised.
In assisting you to plan your estate, your Passaic County estate lawyer will become part of a team of professionals including financial consultants, your accountant and life insurance professionals. This team approach will maximize your tax benefits and ensure that your wishes will be carried out upon your death.
Lawyers often draft wills on a flat fee basis. If so, the fee may vary, depending on how complicated the process of accounting for all of your assets (not to mention heirs) might be. Remember, the more organized you are, the more positive an effect you can have on the fees you’re charged.
Review of documents
Your estate attorney in Passaic County may have done a great job writing your will and taking care of other necessary tasks. This does not, however, mean his or her job is done, especially if a substantial period of time has passed since the estate plan was put into place (years or even decades). If this scenario applies to you, then so does the need to have your lawyer review the status of your estate.
- Your will, trust documents, business plans, bank accounts, investments and the like are all basically “living” things, subject to growth, change or even termination.
- Reviewing a will to ensure that individual gifts intended for specific heirs are still yours to give, for example, is very important.
- The estate attorney needs to be certain that the state has sufficient funds or other assets for distribution to named beneficiaries and/or to pay any debts or taxes owed by the estate. His or her fee to assist you for these issues is likely to be charged on an hourly basis.
- Think of reviewing the status of your estate as regularly scheduled maintenance. It is almost always well worth the investment.
A will contest is often an expensive proposition, but so is defending it. If you appoint one or more family members to serve as an executor of the estate, they might not be fully qualified to handle all of the details. Ensuring that your estate lawyer in Passaic County has been retained to assist the executor(s) when necessary will provide peace of mind to you while you’re still here and to your loved ones after you’ve gone.