Fees: Full Disclosure In Advance

When thinking about planning for your estate, one of the first things on your mind is the question of what the cost will be. That’s why we believe in full disclosure. We will advise you in advance of the cost of our services. The fee will reflect the value of our counseling, and the process you choose to create the best solutions for your particular needs and circumstances, and those of your loved ones.

You are not charged by the hour for estate planning, and we do not charge by the document. Our initial consultation is free. You will know what the cost is before we proceed. It will be a flat fee.

Competitive Fees: A Tailored Service

We charge a fair and competitive price for the value of the services we provide: our counseling, knowledge, and the unique personal process we use to assist you with solutions addressing your concerns and circumstances.

Our initial fees may be higher than those of other attorneys or legal document preparers in our community who charge for mere document preparation. However, document preparation is not estate planning.

Estate planning is a thoughtful and personalized process in which, through counseling and informed choices, we co-create with you a plan that addresses your circumstances and concerns in order to secure your legacy, protect your estate, and provide for your loved ones.

Costs vs. Value

The value of an estate plan is not just in the cost of the documents.  The value of an estate plan is measured by whether it meets your needs and expectations, and the needs and expectations of the people who will be left behind to administer your estate and abide by your thoughtful planning.

There are three main cost/value considerations to estate planning: 

1) The initial cost/value of the documents;

2) The value of updating and maintaining the plan, or the cost of not doing so;

3) The cost of estate administration (which is typically the largest cost).

  1. Most people shop around local law firms, and even online “Will” providers looking for the “best price.”  They ask for the “cost” to prepare documents, yet low price quite often reflects a generic, cookie-cutter, fill-in-the-blank, form document.  A decision based upon “best price” fails to address any of your (or your loved ones’) particular short or long term needs at all. The old adage “You get what you pay for” comes to mind. The impact of your estate plan in the event of your death or disability is too important to be subject to “best price” shortfalls. 

  2. A second consideration is the cost of failing to keep your estate plan updated and maintained. A change in the law might make a plan outdated, and a change in the client’s life may require the plan to be updated. Because most attorneys often charge by the hour, clients hesitate to call the attorney because of how much even a simple call will cost. So, many plans are never updated, and can lose some of their important functionality. As a value-centered estate planning office, we provide a solution: PathPlan©; a service developed to ensure your estate plan stays up to date, and properly funded.

  3. The third consideration is the cost of administering the plan; a cost that will be borne by your loved ones after you are gone. The cost of a probate administration can often equal 8% or more of the total value of an estate, costing thousands of dollars for attorney fees, trustee fees, accountant fees, probate fees and other costs. This is often true even for those with living trusts, because at the time of death, plans are typically not fully funded, and both a probate and trust administration are required.

We do not prepare generic, one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter documents.  We offer a client-focused, value-centered process to co-create your estate plan protections.

Our Service & Fees.

We counsel you about your options, and assist you in discovering the estate plan that best satisfies your needs. A plan that protects your assets, provides for your loved ones, and works when needed.

We offer three levels of service.

1.  Essentials Plan

What every family needs as a bare minimum of essential lifetime planning.

  • A simple will-based or trust-based plan designed to transfer your estate to whom you want, when you want, and how you want.
  • Provides guardians to care for your children (if applicable)
  • Provides for potential incapacity with a comprehensive Financial Power of Attorney
  • Records your end of life choices and appoints health care agents

Fee Range: Will-Based $850 – $2,500; Trust-Based $2,500-$3,500

2.  Family Protections Plan 

  • Client-centered, counseling-based planning that begins a relationship designed to achieve and maintain your unique family goals.
    • Education about proper estate planning
    • Data gathering and information organization
    • In-depth planning and counseling
    • Design Meeting, Delivery & Review Meeting, Funding Meeting, Financial Strategies Meeting as needed
    • Preparation of Comprehensive Revocable Living Trusts, Pour-over Wills, Asset Transfers, Funding Instructions, and Informative Summaries.
    • Personalized Estate Planning Portfolio, and Estate Planning Binder
  •  Protects your beneficiaries from creditors and divorce
  •  Comprehensive disability planning for you and your spouse to avoid “living probate”:
    • Disability panel
    • Detailed instructions for care
    • Comprehensive Financial Power of Attorney
    • Appointment of health care agents,  ”living will” end of life choices, and HIPPA release forms
  •  Reduces or eliminates estate taxes
  •  Professional Trust Funding (Asset Transfers) and PathPlan©; plan maintenance coverage so your plan works when you need it
  •  Includes Trust Protectors, Special Needs Trusts and Pet Trusts

Fee Range:  $3,875 – $10,000

3.  Advanced Planning

Includes all the features in Level Two, yet goes far beyond those levels:

  •  Incorporates the most advanced wealth transfer strategies available to minimize taxation and fees such as: Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, Charitable Remainder Trusts, IRA Trusts, etc.
  •  Uses sophisticated strategies to maximize, guide, and protect the wealth passed down to your beneficiaries. May include comprehensive and specific directions for the distribution and preservation of your wealth for generations to come.

Fee Range: $10,000+


Payment plans are available. We will tell you in advance what the amount will be.

There are no hidden costs, agendas, or upsells. Our goal is your peace of mind.

Located in Visalia CA, Joan A. Watters, Esq. Attorney at Law assists clients throughout the Central Valley of California with various estate planning and elder law. Areas include but are not limited to Visalia, Exeter, Tulare, Hanford, Bakersfield, Lemoore, Three Rivers; and the surrounding counties of Tulare, Kings, and Kern.

© 2024 Joan A. Watters, Esq., Attorney at Law | Disclaimer
PO Box 547, Visalia, CA 93279-0547
| Phone: 559-635-1775 | 559 786-0390

Estate Planning | Estate Planning with Wills | Trusts & Estate Planning | Estate Planning/Non-Traditional Families | Advanced Estate Planning | Planning for Children | Family Limited Partnerships | Special Needs Planning | Guardianships | Asset Protection | Probate / Estate Administration | Business Succession Planning | Elder Law | Fees

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