How Much Does Estate Planning Cost in North Carolina? (2023)


For any legal work, the price for these services is always a primary consideration for clients, especially when it comes to estate planning. From drafting wills or trusts to verifying financial account information, the pricing and extent of an estate planning attorney’s fees can vary from firm to firm. Understanding these fees is the first step in the process of creating an estate plan.


When creating an estate plan, the finances, health, religious affiliation, and family size are used to determine which documents, beneficiaries, and assets are included in the compiled materials. Each particular plan will have a unique collection of documents. However, the fundamentals of an estate plan include the following:

  • Last Will and Testament: This document specifies how assets will be distributed to beneficiaries.
  • Durable Power of Attorney: This should cover both healthcare decisions and general affairs.
  • Living Trust: This can be modified and expanded throughout the grantor’s lifetime to outline asset division for beneficiaries.
  • Executor Designation: This determines who will handle the settlement of the deceased’s estate.

The assets that get included in a will, as well as their size and complexity, can impact the amount of money it costs to create these plans. The probate process can also incur more legal fees when settling an estate. Depending on what assets are included in the initial estate plan, though, probate proceedings may be avoided. Because each estate and each estate law office are unique, pricing breakdowns can vary greatly. More complex estates will take longer to plan out when compared to simpler, more modest plans.


For different legal services, an estate planning lawyer will charge certain fees for the work they do in compiling an estate. Depending on the chosen firm and the size of an estate, the planning process can range in price for services. The two most common types of fees associated with estate planning include:

  • Flat Fees: When an attorney can swiftly evaluate a client’s estate requirements and determine the kind of estate plan they need, flat fees are used. To design the ideal estate plan, estate planning attorneys can take into account a client’s financial situation, family dynamics, and any unique circumstances, and from there, pricing for services can be determined. If they see fit, an attorney may offer a flat fee option, which is a set cost to finish all of a client’s estate planning tasks. A basic flat-fee estate plan comprises, among other things, simple wills, powers of attorney, and end-of-life arrangements, which are among the most widely used estate planning instruments. Even though this is a standard estate planning package, different firms have different flat fee policies.
  • Hourly Rate: An attorney may request a retainer from clients before beginning work on their cases when charging an hourly rate. An attorney will use a retainer as a source of funds as they work for a client. Attorneys and law firms have different retainer procedures. Estate planning attorneys frequently charge an hourly rate if an estate plan is expected to require more complex preparation or time spent collaborating with other specialists, such as a financial planner. If an attorney is unable to estimate the cost of an estate plan with certainty, they will bill an hourly rate that is consistent with their level of experience and education in the estate planning industry.

Regardless of the fee arrangement a lawyer utilizes, be sure to get a written copy of it. An attorney should provide their clients with a written agreement that outlines fees and payment procedures. This document should also outline the amount of work the attorney will perform, which may include determining which estate planning documents should be included in a plan, confidentiality obligations, and any agreements regarding dispute resolution. It is critical to ask for this engagement letter if an attorney will not provide one up front. Before the estate planning process starts, the agreement needs to be signed by the client and the attorney.


Q: How much is an estate attorney in North Carolina?

A: Since North Carolina probate attorney charges vary based on the firm chosen, it can be difficult to estimate the cost of estate planning services. The majority of estate planning attorneys bill by the hour, with fees usually ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 or more depending on the size of the estate.

Q: How much does it cost to close an estate in North Carolina?

A: The number of legal services required to administer a North Carolina estate will differ based on the complexity of the case and the attorney’s role. The statutory law in North Carolina dictates that the attorney’s fees must be fair. If the attorney’s duties are restricted to assisting the executor with estate administration procedures, their fees should not exceed 5% of the estate’s value. The charges will also offset the costs of the executor’s commission.

Q: How much does setting up a trust in North Carolina cost?

A: How you go about creating a living trust will determine how much it costs. It will cost a few hundred dollars or less to create a trust document independently using an internet application. The expense of hiring an attorney, who can ensure the trust’s legitimacy, may exceed $1,000. However, a professional is necessary to create a legally recognizable and sound trust. Depending on the attorney and firm, these prices are subject to change.

Q: Are estate plans worth it?

A: Estate plans are essential for ensuring that certain beneficiaries receive specific assets upon the death of the grantor. Without a solid estate plan, an estate must go through probate, where the court will divide the estate among any surviving relatives. Creating an estate plan is the best way to ensure that the right relatives receive certain assets.


The estate planning process does cost money, but these expenses are necessary for creating a comprehensive plan for asset division. With the help of an estate planning attorney, a thoroughly designed estate plan is guaranteed to provide beneficiaries with the guidance they need to execute any of the grantor’s last wishes. Pinnacle Law’s estate planning experts can help those wishing to make an estate plan feel confident in their decisions, so contact us today to schedule a consultation.