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Estate Planning Organization

Are Estate Planning Fees Tax Deductible: A Guide


Estate Planning Fees

Estate planning is a critical aspect of one's financial life, ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death. However, the process can be complex and often requires professional help, leading to the question, "Are estate planning fees tax deductible?" 


We at Beyond the Estate Plan work on keeping and updating your important information and help you prepare for the unexpected. This article aims to answer the above question and provide more insights into planning and its corresponding fees.


Understanding Estate Planning Fees


Financial Planning

Before diving deeper into the tax deductibility aspect, it’s important to understand what constitutes estate planning and fees. This comprehensive process involves making several legal and financial decisions about how an individual’s assets will be managed, preserved, and distributed after death. 


It also includes arrangements for potential incapacity during their lifetime. Here are some of the key components involved:


Drafting a Will


This is the most basic element. A will outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after your death.


Creating Trusts


Trusts are legal entities that hold assets for the benefit of others. There are different types of trusts, each with its benefits and drawbacks. They can help avoid probate, reduce taxes, or set conditions for your assets’ distribution.


Designating Beneficiaries


Assets such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and some bank accounts allow you to name a beneficiary who will receive the asset directly upon your death without going through probate.


Establishing Power of Attorney


A power of attorney document allows you to designate someone to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and unable to manage your affairs.


Healthcare Directives


These documents, including a living will and healthcare power of attorney, specify your wishes for end-of-life care and appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so.


Guardianship Designations


If you have minor children, your plan should include provisions for their care and custody in the event of your premature death.


Estate Taxes Planning


Depending on the size of your properties, it may be subject to federal and/or state estate tax. Proper planning can minimize the impact of these taxes on your beneficiaries.


Asset Protection


This involves strategies to protect your assets from potential creditors or litigation.


Business Succession Planning


If you own a business, your plan should include a succession plan to outline what happens to the business after your death.


Charitable Giving


If you wish to leave a legacy to a charitable organization, this can be incorporated into your plan through various methods, such as charitable trusts or donations in your will.


All these services are typically provided by your attorneys or lawyers, and meeting with them is the most important task of all. It's essential to have a clear grasp of your unique circumstances, as this knowledge directly influences your tax obligations. And by keeping all your documents current and readily accessible for these consultations, you empower your team to devise the most effective plan tailored to your needs.


Are Estate Planning Attorney Fees Tax Deductible?


Tax Deductibility

Now, to the main question - are estate planning fees tax deductible? The answer is not straightforward due to the complexities of tax laws.

Historically, estate planning fees were tax deductible under certain circumstances. Depending on the situation, about 40 to 60 percent of legal fees are tax-deductible. The current consensus among tax and legal experts is that most fees are not tax deductible. Examples of non-deductible services for tax returns include:


  • The creation of a will

  • Medical directive

  • Power of attorney

  • Custody of children

  • Personal injury claims

  • Civil or criminal charges (related to a personal relationship)

  • Property claims or settlements after a divorce

  • Family members disputes


According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you generally cannot deduct personal legal fees, which includes estate planning. This suggests that the costs involved in drafting a will or setting up a living trust are typically not tax-deductible.


However, there may be some exceptions. If the fees are related to tasks such as producing or collecting taxable income, managing, conserving, or maintaining property held for income production, or determining, contesting, paying, or claiming a refund of any tax, they may be deductible.


For example, if a portion of the attorney's work involves advising on tax strategies, that part of the fee might be deductible. Similarly, if the lawyer assists in managing a decedent's properties, including selling assets and settling debts, those fees might also be deductible.


However, these exceptions are not universally applicable and can vary based on individual circumstances and local laws. For instance, in New York, there are specific conditions under which fees could be tax deductible.


Given the complexity of tax laws and their frequent changes, it's always advisable to consult with a tax professional or CPA familiar with your specific situation before making any decisions based on tax deductions.


In summary, while the general rule is that estate planning lawyer fees are not tax deductible, there are exceptions. Understanding these nuances can assist you in better financial planning and potentially save on taxes. 


You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers


Estate planning is more than just drafting a will - it's about ensuring your loved ones are cared for after you're gone. Therefore, even if the fees are not deductible, consider them an investment in your family's future. 


Here at Beyond the Estate Plan, we emphasize the importance of preparation. Before consulting with a lawyer, accountant, or financial advisor, it's crucial to gather all necessary documentation. This proactive step can help streamline the process, preventing the need for additional, potentially costly meetings to clarify details later on.


Contact Us Today to know how we can help.


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Beyond the Estate Plan is the creation of Judith Guertin. Her passion is helping families organize and document their affairs to help everyone be prepared for the unexpected. Beyond The Estate Plan offers you the information you need to find, store, and locate your estate planning documentation, from a guide chocked full of checklists, documents, and advice, to helpful seminars, and even a membership community filled with others facing the same situations as you. Get as much or as little estate planning documentation help as you need with Beyond the Estate Plan and get peace of mind for you and your family.

Judith Guertin. Owner & Author

Judith Guertin is a renowned author, and a Professional Organizer and Productivity Specialist helping clients document, save, and share vital information. Her background as an occupational therapist and a professional organizer, allow her to share a wealth of knowledge about how to create and maintain order for everything in your life – including your estate plan. When tragedy struck her life with the unexpected loss of her mother in 2001, she found her calling to help others avoid the complications that can accompany a tragic loss through proper advanced planning.

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