Slate Law Offices
Central Wisconsin's Estate Planning Attorneys
Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions, feel free to ask us. If it is a common question, we'll post the question and answer here.          
What is the difference between a trust and a Will?

A Will, in simple terms, is instructions to the probate court as to how you want your estate settled.  (Who will get your assets, who will be in charge, etc...)  Wills do not avoid probate and are public documents.  A Revocable Trust is a private document doing all the things a Will does, but more. It says who will be in charge of your assets upon disability and death.  It is always private and does not go through probate.  It helps to reduce or eliminate death taxes, avoids probate costs and becomes effective while you are alive, not on death like a Will.  A Revocable Living Trust is the best estate planning tool available for most people.  

Why is Probate a bad thing?  

Probate is neither bad, nor good.  It is a process.  One thing that people dislike about probate is that most probates last longer than a year.  That is, from the time a person dies, to the time the beneficiaries get their inheritance, is more than a year.  The probate process is public, which means anyone can go and look over the probate files which says what a person owns when they die, who gets what and how they get it.  It is also expensive.  The average cost of probate is 5% of the estate.  This consists of court costs, lawyer fees and other expenses.  On a $500,000 estate, that's $25,000 in costs.  (As a side note, on a $500,000 estate it costs $1,000 just to file the Will with the Probate Court.)  Most people believe the time it takes, the public exposure and cost of probate make it a bad thing.  (That is except people who make money doing probates!)    

How much does a trust cost?

This is a hard question to answer.  It's like trying to answer, how much does a house cost?  It depends.  Do you want a simple 2 bedroom, 1 bath home, with 1,200 square feet, or a deluxe 5 bedroom 4 bath home at 4,000 square feet?  Estate planning can be very simple, or complex.  A few factors include; the size of your estate.  The more assets you have the more tax planning and funding are required.  Do you have children with disabilities?  All these go into your estate plan.  That is why, at Slate Law Offices, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss your estate plan.  At the end of our discussion, we will quote you a cost for your plan.  Only after talking with you will we know what you need.  Any lawyer who quotes you a fee without talking to you about your specific needs is merely using a fill in the blank form that will not be personalized to your needs, and will not be the best plan for you!