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How to Minimize Legal Fees After Death



Death is a costly business. Aside from funeral expenses, legal fees can take a big chunk out of how much is left for your loved ones after you are gone.

But it does not have to be this way. Careful planning can minimize the legal fees your loved ones will pay after you die. Here is how:

1. Make an estate plan – The cost of creating an estate plan will be far less than the legal fees your loved ones will have to pay if you do not have one. But be careful – do not try to write your own will or revocable living trust. Do-it-yourself or online plans often fail to include valuable cost, tax, and legal fee saving opportunities. You need the advice and assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney to create an estate plan that will work when it’s needed and minimize legal fees after your death.

2. Maintain your estate plan – Once you have created your estate plan, do not stick it in a drawer and forget about it. Instead, fine tune your plan as your life and your finances change. Otherwise, when your plan is needed, it will be stale and out of date and will cost your beneficiaries time and legal fees to fix it. In a worst case scenario, a stale plan could lead to expensive and emotionally draining litigation between your family members. Regular maintenance of your estate plan makes it easier to carry out when needed.

3. Have a debt plan – Make a plan for paying off your debts and taxes after you die. This should include setting aside funds that your loved ones will have easy access to (for example, set up a joint bank account or a payable on death account) so that they will not have to use their own assets to pay your bills until your will can be probated or the successor trustee of your trust can be appointed. If your estate is taxable, then make sure you have enough assets that can be easily liquidated to pay the estate tax bill. Life insurance can be another option for providing easy access to cash and paying estate taxes, but it is important that you align your life insurance plan with your estate plan to get the maximum benefit.

4. Let your loved ones know whe