It’s helpful to have an expectation about what a product or service will cost. Likewise, it’s helpful to know the value of the product or service. A Revocable Living Trust is the most popular tool in a solid estate plan. How much does a revocable living trust cost? I’ll outline the fee ranges you’ll expect to see as well as where my current fees fall on the spectrum.
Fee Ranges – $200 – $5,000+
Why are the fee ranges all over the map? Well, there are several factors in play here:
- Using a DIY (do it yourself) or hiring an attorney.
- The State you live in (and what part of the State you live in).
- Whether you are married or single.
- Your net worth.
- The types of assets do you have.
- How you want to customize your inheritance plan.
- What is included in the trust package.
- And many other factors.
In addition to a revocable living trust, you need the other foundational estate planning documents (Pour-over Will, Durable Power of Attorney, and Advance Health Care Directive). It is also critical that you “Fund” your trust appropriately. The major benefits of a revocable living trust are only available if you re-title your assets in the trust name as appropriate.
DIY Trust Preparation Services – Cheaper Option
Do it yourself trust services range from $200 – $1,000. Some DIY services provide more than others. You may see that some provide attorney resources for an additional fee if you have questions or want the documents reviewed. Fees for DIY trust preparation services are almost always flat fee. I’ve seen some offer subscription plans which allow you to update your documents over time or include a limited amount access to an attorney for questions. With most DIY services you print the documents at home and get them signed and notarized on your own. Sometimes they will mail documents to you in a binder and assist with getting notary (far less common). It is uncommon for DIY services to help with retitling assets into your trust.
- Advantages of DIY
- Less expensive.
- Some guidance and explanation.
- Disadvantages of DIY
- Little or no advice or assistance retitling assets/accounts in the name of the trust.
- You don’t know what you don’t know.
- Limited ability to ask (or be asked) questions to make sure the trust is drafted correctly for you.
- Who should consider DIY
- Small estate value (likely with no real estate ownership).
- Cannot afford to hire an attorney.
- Who should NOT use DIY
- Own real estate or a business.
- Children with special needs, addiction problems, or responsibility concerns, etc.
- Higher net worth.
Hiring an Attorney – Higher Fee Option
Hiring an attorney to prepare your revocable living trust will cost more than a DIY service. Fees range from $1,200 – $5,000+. You may have more confidence that your plan is prepared correctly when you hire an attorney. And you have the ability to ask or be asked questions to determine the best option for you. An attorney can give you advice and assistance retitling assets in your trust. It is very important to know which assets should be titled in the trust and how to name beneficiaries on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, etc. Attorneys will be able to advise on the tax implications and asset protection aspects of planning as well.
- Advantages of Hiring an Attorney
- Advice and assistance retitling assets/accounts in the name of the trust.
- Personally tailored to your unique circumstance.
- Confidence that it’s done properly.
- Contemplate tax efficiencies and asset protection options.
- Disadvantages of Hiring an Attorney
- Higher fees.
- Who should consider Hiring an Attorney
- Owns real estate or a business.
- Want to know it’s been done correctly.
- Wants tailored advice.
- Wants assistance retitling assets/accounts in the name of the trust.
- Needs asset protection.
- Someone who (even with modest net worth) has children with special needs, addiction problems, or responsibility concerns, etc.
- Higher net worth.
My fees for revocable living trust plans are usually $2,500. The fees always include assistance retitling assets and include the other foundational estate planning documents (Pour-over Will, Durable Power of Attorney, and Advance Health Care Directive). My fee quote increases for some based on the complexity of the plan. My process is to have a free consult (phone/zoom/in person) where I can learn about your situation and what you’re trying to accomplish. The initial appointment usually lasts about an hour. By the end of our discussion I can almost always recommend a course of action and quote a flat fee for our recommendation. You’ll know what I recommend, how it works, what it will cost, and when it can be completed.
Conclusion – Value is the Key, Not Price
Higher fees and lower fees are not necessarily better or worse. Value is the key. When you give your hard earned money to someone, you’re doing it because you perceive that what you’re getting in return is worth as much or more than you paid. And in the world of estate planning, the value you get is more than documents to help divide assets upon your death. It is more likely that your children are the ones who will see trust play out. During your lifetime, the value to you is peace of mind knowing that everything is in order. What is that worth to you?