How Much Should a Living Trust Cost?

A living trust is an alternative to a Will when planning how and who will handle your affairs following your incapacity and death. Wills require probate court involvement, living trusts do not require probate court. The price of a Will is generally less than then price of a living trust. However, the overall cost of a Will is typically more than a living trust when considering probate fees that commonly exceed $50,000.

A living trust centered estate plan requires more skill, time and attention on the part of the lawyer hired to write it. In fact, the price of a living trust plan will often exceed 5 times the price of preparing a Will. However, since the overall cost of a living trust centered plan is often less than a Will, many California residents choose a living trust centered plan over a Will based plan. Working with an expert attorney is highly recommended.

So, what is the price of a living trust?  In large part, it is tied to the hourly rate of the lawyer. It takes no less than 10 hours of attorney time to educate the client, elicit the client’s hopes, fears, and aspirations for the client’s loved ones and client’s legacy. Then there is the follow up.  Making sure that assets that should go into the trust actually end up in the trust, takes time and expertise. Taking less than 10 hours doesn’t leave much time to know the client’s story and write that into a complete living trust estate plan.

Lawyers charge a range of fees. Some attorneys charge $300 per hour and others charge over $1,000 per hour. If you multiply that by 10, you get a starting point.  Fees can go higher – but only when the lawyer is adding value. A more sophisticated plan may be required due to various reasons: family dynamics, taxes, health, addiction, problem beneficiaries, creditors, divorces, business interests, etc. After all, every person has a unique story, and your estate plan should reflect that.

A good way of gauging what the price of the living trust plan will be and whether the lawyer will devote enough time to your matter is to simply ask that lawyer his or her hourly rate. If its $300 per hour, then you should expect to pay no less than $3,000 for a quality estate plan. If the lawyer charges $600 per hour expect to pay at least $6,000.  If the lawyer’s hourly rate is $300 per hour and the fee is $1000 for a living trust plan, your plan will likely not get the time, effort and attention it deserves.

For more answers and information on how we can help you with your living trust, contact us today!