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What is a reasonable fee for estate planning?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by jfoxcpacfp
    Multiple thousands for complex estates. The problem is you don’t know what’s out there that you need to be considering. This is not a cut-and-paste job, although some legal firms treat it that way. You really need to find an experienced firm with a deep tax knowledge and with whom you connect mentally. It’s not too difficult to determine if they are just going through the motions, especially after you meet with a few. While you don’t want to search looking for the most expensive, as with all true professionals, price shopping is not a good way to determine your final choice, Whoever you choose will prob be starting from scratch, no matter what you think. That is what i would expect when choosing a new firm.
    Excellent advice for complex estates (and I'm not just referring to high net worth estates). For more than basic planning, each lawyer's methodology in planning and the final product varies greatly, as you would expect. Multiple initial consults will help clients determine who to work with.


    • #17
      Second marriages and blended families can make things plenty complex. Also special needs trusts and dependents with expected lifelong disabilities.

      That said, you want to be careful about getting a great set of paper documents but stumbling on the one yard line and failing to retitle assets and fund trusts. Either make sure you're comfortable finishing all of your assigned tasks or pay (a reasonable fee) to have all assets retitled as necessary to make the plan your trust and estate lawyer drafted effective.


      • #18
        WCICON24 EarlyBird
        Originally posted by snowcanyon
        Lol I was quoted 20k...ridiculous since I won't be here for the benefits!!
        I kinda hesitate to wade into this. But in Washington state, the threshold for filing an estate tax tax return is very low. The trigger is a gross estate of $2,193,000. And that's before deductions for things like a mortgage. And note we're a community property state so that tripwire exists for the couple's gross estate when first spouse passes.

        What this means is, firms like ours do a lot of estate tax tax returns. And this is all a long way around to say that the estate stuff gets really messy. It's like doing someone's tax return when they're going through a divorce. Something that should take a couple of hours instead takes ten hours.

        Which makes me say this: Anything you can do to not set up your heirs or your spouse for a dumpster fire is worth considering.

        P.S. My quote for a Washington state estate tax return is 10-12 hours if your attorney has done her or his work. But if you and the heirs fight or you're discombobulated because you've just lost your spouse or things get messy, it could easily double or triple. (BTW, just for the record, I don't actually do these myself. A CPA and a tax attorney in our firm both of whom specialize in this do them.)
        Stephen L. Nelson, CPA, MS-tax, MBA-finance - Partner
        Nelson CPA PLLC | s[email protected]