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The trend among estate planners, including myself, is to offer flat-fee estate plans. I think this a great development for both attorneys and our clients.
A flat fee estate plan allows my clients to know the cost of their estate plan up front. I provide my clients with a menu of estate plan options, which differ in price based on complexity. For example, a plan with a simple will as the central organizing document is easier to draft and therefore costs less than if a revocable living trust is the key document. All of my estate plans also include the other key documents you should have in place, including a durable power of attorney for health care, a living will, a financial power of attorney, and HIPPA waiver.
I like flat fee plans because they simplify the relationship between me and my clients and allow me to spend as much time as needed to understand my clients and their family’s needs. I also find that my clients like the flat fee model because it lets them call or email me with questions without having to worry about how much each minute is costing them.
In my practice, the fee I charge reflects how long it takes me, on average, to prepare the plan. A revocable living trust plan takes me longer to draft, so it costs more. This is also why the price for couples – in which I have to produce documents for both spouses – is more than for a single person.
My goal is to keep my plans affordable while also offering a superior level of service. For me, the flat-fee model is the best vehicle to achieve this goal.