Most people, regardless of stature and wealth, 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estate planning when grieving family members come to us with that fancy binder that sat on the shelf for years, full of out-of-date estate planning documents, and are shocked to find themselves stuck in what could have been an avoidable court process or even conflict when that’s exactly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’s why selecting 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 once you’ve left the attorney’s office—your life changes, the law changes, and your assets change over time; your plan needs to keep up with those changes.
And the truth is, a lawyer can’t afford to provide anything more than documents that won’t get updated when you only pay a few hundred dollars for a plan. The business model doesn’t work for the lawyer and won’t work for you.
An attorney who has built a practice specifically to serve your family in their best interests would not sell $399 (or even $1,500 or $2,000) Wills, Trusts, or estate plans. A lawyer selling you a cheap plan would only provide documents—not the long-term relationship, updates, and ensuring that assets are properly titled in a Trust. Buyer beware!
02 | Forms and documents won’t be there for your family when you can’t be—you want to leave your loved one in a relationship with a trusted advisor with whom you have built a relationship during your lifetime and who has met them and they already trust.
Working with a lawyer who focuses on “the best documents” at the “lowest price” or doesn’t charge enough for their services cannot provide more than form documents. These days, especially with the rise of AI, template form documents are free for anyone to use, which makes it difficult to know how those documents are handled when it comes to protecting the people you love.
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.
03 | You get what you pay for, but it’s your family that will pay the price.
Traditional law firms usually use generic forms and documents. These firms are called “Trust mills” and are a firm that drafts plans but don’t ensure assets are owned correctly or stay up-to-date over time. You might think that’s malpractice, but it’s not. It’s common practice, leaving your family at risk if and when something happens to you!
04 | 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 $50 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 is not 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 to do anything about it. It’s risky business to leave your loved ones 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. You don’t want the cheap plan; you want the plan that will work for the people you love when they need it.
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. We can help you save some money by giving it to you to do yourself, or you can pay us for a plan review to make sure your loved ones won’t get stuck with an expensive and painful and unnecessary court process or loss of assets.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment. We begin our planning process with a Family Wealth 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.