How Much Does Estate Planning Cost in California? (2024)

Lynard C. Hinojosa

Estate planning is a difficult proposition for many people. It can be very upsetting and stressful to be faced with the need to plan for the end of our lives, as it involves imagining a future for our family and loved ones without us in it.

For anyone with valuable assets or a complex inheritance situation, however, it is critical that you confront your estate planning needs. Your legacy, your family’s future, and your peace of mind for the rest of your days may all depend on it.

The experienced estate planning team at Hinojosa & Forer LLP can help. Working out of our main offices in Los Angeles, we help Southern Californians deal with estates of all sizes. We can work out even the most difficult inheritance situations by developing a comprehensive and fully customized estate plan to meet each client’s unique situation.

The Importance of Estate Planning

An estate plan is not merely an optional legal instrument for the very wealthy. It is a crucial element of getting your affairs in order so that you do not cause your family undue hardship, stress, or delays in getting the assets you have bequeathed them.

Your loved ones will already be having a difficult time in the wake of your death or incapacitation. Protect them from additional trauma with a comprehensive estate plan that spells out exactly which assets and responsibilities go where. This will eliminate confusion and needless family drama. Without an estate plan in place, all your assets will be subject to a long, drawn-out probate court process. In probate court, your remaining estate will be chipped away at by court fees. Your heirs will also have no access to their inheritance until probate court proceedings end—usually after many months.

In short, a properly implemented estate plan saves your family from additional stress, unnecessary waiting, and needlessly dramatic infighting over the assets you leave behind.

Those who are unfamiliar with how sophisticated and multi-faceted an estate plan can be might think that “estate plan” and “will” are two interchangeable legal terms. In reality, this is not at all true. Comprehensive estate planning goes well beyond preparing a will. A last will and testament is merely one of the more common documents that will be included as part of your estate plan. The estate planning services offered by a qualified attorney may include, among other legal instruments and strategies:

  • Living wills
  • Revocable trusts
  • Powers of attorney
  • Assigning agents and executors
  • Preparing necessary affidavits
  • Advanced medical directive
  • Powers of attorney
  • Restructuring an estate’s tax burden
  • Interfacing with the probate court and other authorities

Because of the vast range of services an estate planning lawyer can provide, there is no simple way to estimate how much these services will cost you. The total cost of estate planning will depend on many factors, including:

  • Geographic location
  • The number of different documents and legal instruments used in crafting your estate plan
  • The amount of time spent in court executing your estate
  • The quality of your legal representation

Pitfalls of DIY Estate Planning

As with any other type of legal proceeding, American citizens have the right to represent themselves when it comes to writing their will and preparing an estate plan. The internet is full of tips for people who want to create a do-it-yourself estate plan. However, taking legal advice from unqualified strangers online is never wise, especially when your family’s future is at stake.

Unless your estate consists of extremely simple, straightforward assets, and your inheritance situation is likewise extremely simple (e.g., you have only a spouse or single child in line to receive an inheritance), it is extremely ill advised to try to create your own estate plan. Untrained laypeople can often make clerical or procedural mistakes that threaten to render their entire estate plan invalid.

While a website may be able to help you create a one-size-fits-all will using a template, it will never be able to answer your questions or deal with the probate court on your behalf. It will not compassionately and expertly talk you through the difficult process of planning for a future after you are gone.

Estate Planning Fees

Every attorney has their own pricing and billing policies. Some estate planning experts offer their services at a flat rate. Many other top-tier attorneys—especially those who specialize in large or complex estates—will charge by the hour. This allows them to continue working until a complete, comprehensive estate plan has been developed and drafted. They will not have to ask for another flat fee any time a new legal instrument needs to be added to the estate plan.

FAQs About Estate Planning Cost in California

At what age do most people begin estate planning?

There is no right or wrong age to begin thinking about estate planning. The reality of this world is that disaster can strike any one of us at any moment, and we owe it to our families and loved ones to be prepared for that eventuality. When you are on your deathbed, it will be too late to give estate planning the focus it deserves. The right time to start thinking about estate planning for many people is when their work and home situations are such that they find themselves saving up assets and providing for a family.

How much does it cost to set up a living trust in California?

The price of most legal services, including setting up a living trust, can vary widely depending on

  • Your geographical location.
  • The quality of your lawyer.
  • The complexity of the trust you want to set up.
  • The type of assets being placed into a trust.

Generally, the legal fees for setting up a living trust in California will often fall between $2,000 and $5,000.

Is estate planning just for the wealthy? Is it worth it?

While estate planning can mean a significant upfront investment in protecting your legacy and your family’s future, it can actually be a major cost saver in the long run. A comprehensive estate plan makes the transfer of assets to your heirs simple and painless, eliminating long and costly legal sagas. Some estate plans even restructure your estate’s tax burden to keep more of it intact for your beneficiaries.

Hinojosa & Forer LLP: Your Trusted Los Angeles Partner for Estate Planning and Living Trusts

The legal team at Hinojosa & Forer LLP of Los Angeles has nearly a century of combined experience in estate planning. We are ready to put those years of success in the fields of litigation, administrative law, and high-value estate planning to work for you. We can protect your assets and make sure your family has the support they need to carry on when your time on earth has ended. Contact us today for a compassionate, no-stress consultation.




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