February 20, 2023

In most cases, from the most sophisticated business people with the highest net worth to those just starting in the workforce and on their path to adulthood, you very likely do not know how to evaluate estimates when shopping for an estate plan.

Shopping for an estate plan based on getting the lowest cost plan possible is often the fastest path to leaving your family with an empty set of documents (maybe in a beautiful binder, but not worth the paper they are written on) that won’t work for your family when they need it.

Unfortunately, we see the negative effects of cheap estate planning when family members come to us during a time of grief with that fancy binder that sat on the shelf for years sending out signals of false security, full of out-of-date estate planning documents, and find themselves stuck in what could have been an avoidable court process,  or even conflict when that’s exactly what their loved one thought they had paid someone to handle for them. 

Here Are 5 Reasons Why Shopping For The Cheapest Estate Plan Is Likely To Leave You With A Plan That Won’t Work For Your Family… And Could Leave Them With A Big Mess Instead.

01 | The least expensive plan isn’t worth the paper it’s written on for long (if ever) — your life changes, the law changes, and your assets change over time; your plan needs to keep up with those changes. What is the plan for getting that advice going forward? Do the documents you have protect your loved ones the way you would want, or are you not sure? Do you know all of the ways a properly designed plan can protect your loved ones, or would you like to have someone advise you on this?

02 | “Estate planning” is often sold as a collection of documents that everyone needs, as though one magical set of documents will work for every person. The focus of anyone “selling” estate planning like this isn’t on understanding the relational and legal dynamics of families, which can flare up after the death of a loved one. As “relational” lawyers, it is our hope to help our clients pre-emptively identify potential for family conflict and head it off before it becomes an expensive problem. We can help you design a plan that prevents your family from unnecessary court and conflict.

03 | Forms and documents won’t be there for your family when you can’t be — you want to leave your loved ones with a trusted advisor with whom you have built a relationship during your lifetime.

Shopping around for the least expensive plan may get you the cheapest documents, but those documents won’t be there to guide the people you love when they need someone to turn to in a crisis or grief. We will be.

04 | You get what you pay for. Most of us know this deep down, but there is a fighting spirit in us that wants to believe we can beat the odds and put one over on the house. Unfortunately, if you lose that game, in this case it is your family that will pay the price. 

05 | An estate plan isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing, it needs to stay updated with changes in your life, the law, and your assets. 

There’s currently more than $58 billion in unclaimed property held in departments of unclaimed property across the United States. Yep, that is billion with a B.  Assets often land there when someone dies or becomes incapacitated, and their family loses track of it because it wasn’t tracked well during life.  And that’s just one way your family loses out if you’ve shopped around for the cheapest estate plan rather than having a plan that works for the people you love.

Is Something Better Than Nothing?

Sometimes, having something in place is better than nothing, but this may not be one of those cases. In this case, having a “something” plan leaves your family holding the expensive, or even empty bag, when it’s too late for them and you to do anything about it. It’s risky business to leave your loved one’s with a set of documents you aren’t sure are going to work, and our guess is that you love your people too much for that. 

Bottom line: don’t waste your time shopping around town for the cheapest plan possible. Find the best plan for you with a qualified attorney who you trust and feel comfortable calling when you have questions.

If you already have an estate plan in place that you may have bought based on price, and are concerned you may have gotten a set of documents  that won’t serve your family when they need it most, call us and ask about our 50-point assessment. Or if you want to know more about how estate planning can protect your loved ones, sign up for our next Wine and Wills seminar. You can find the upcoming dates and registration page on our website under “Resources.” 

Contact us to get on our calendar. We begin our planning process with a Family Wealth Planning Planning Session, during which you’ll not only become more financially organized than ever before, you’ll finally be able to make informed, educated choices about the right plan for your family based on your unique family dynamics and your assets, instead of just shopping around for an estate plan based on price.

This article is a service of a Personal Family Lawyer®. We do not just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer firms®, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.