The cost of a will, or having a will made, created or drawn up, can vary based on a number of factors. Generally, there are two main factors that will determine the cost of a will. These are: whether the individual wants a will as part of their estate plan or just a simple will and how the attorney charges its clients for services.
Other factors which may influence the cost of a will may include:
- The experience and skills of the attorney;
- The location of the will or estate plan; and
- How complex or in-depth the will or estate plan is.
The average cost to have a will made ranges from $940 to $1,500. In many cases, the attorney will create a mirror will for an individual’s spouse for a few hundred additional dollars.
It is common for spouses to have mirror wills. This means that, if spouse A passes away, their estate passes to spouse B. A mirror will is simply the opposite, where everything passes from spouse B to spouse A.
The cost may also be determined by the type of fee schedule that the attorney uses to bill their clients. Types of fee schedules include hourly rates and flat fees.
If an individual is creating an entire estate plan which includes a will, an attorney may charge an hourly rate. In these cases, the attorney will be compensated based on the number of hours they work on the case.
A flat fee is a fee arrangement that is likely to be used if an individual is creating a simple will or trust. A flat fee is a one time payment of a specific amount that covers all work the attorney will do to complete the service. If the will is complex, however, or included in an estate plan, the attorney may charge an hourly fee.
What are Some Factors Used When Calculating Will Costs?
As previously noted, there are many factors which determine the cost of a will lawyer. The major factors include:
- The type of representation;
- The services that will be performed by the lawyer; and
- The type of fee arrangement.
Other factors which may determine the amount a lawyer charges for their services include:
- The amount of time and the effort required to complete the case;
- How difficult the work is projected to be;
- The skill and experience that is required to perform the legal services;
- Fee amounts that are typically charged in the area for similar legal services by lawyers with similar skills, reputation and experience; and
- The extent of the services the client wants the attorney to perform.
It is important to discuss how much basic will preparation or estate planning costs with an attorney prior to hiring them. Most attorneys charge a reasonable fee to write a will.
What are Some Services That Wills Attorneys Perform?
A will attorney is an attorney that specializes in wills and issues surrounding wills. A will is an estate planning tool which is created by an individual, known as a testator, that designates how their property is to be distributed upon their death. Both real and personal property can be disposed of in a will.
In many cases, a will is part of an individual’s estate plan. An individual’s estate plan outlines how their property is managed and distributed when they pass away.
A will attorney will help an individual create an estate plan or just create a simple will, depending on their wishes and needs. A will attorney can help individuals in all stages of life.
Will attorneys can help:
- Draft a will;
- Draft a trust;
- Power of attorney; and
- Any other necessary documents.
Every individual’s estate plan is unique. However, there are certain elements that must be included, such as:
- The individual’s loved ones understanding their wishes;
- The estate plan clearly stating the individual’s wishes;
- A will;
- Health care directives; and
- A financial power of attorney.
Having an attorney create an individual’s estate plan ensures that the plan is not vague and avoids unnecessary future legal disputes. A will is the foundation of an effective estate plan.
The will transfers an individual’s property to the beneficiaries and appoints a guardian for any minor children. A will lawyer will ensure that the will is clear and contains all necessary requirements to be valid and enforceable.
Once an individual has created their estate plan, their attorney can assist them in making any future changes or updates as necessary as time passes. An estate plan evolves just as an individual involves as they enter into new stages of life.
Additionally, if an individual relocates, the will requirements may be different in their new jurisdiction. Individuals should also consider updating their estate plan any time life events occur, including:
- The birth of a child;
- A divorce; and
- A marriage.
In some cases, a will dispute may arise. A contest will is a will which contains terms or provisions which are in dispute.
A will contest or dispute often arises when a beneficiary has an issue with a provision of a will. For example, will contests may arise regarding:
- Whether certain property should go to a specific person;
- The amount of money that is being dispersed in the will;
- The timing of the will distributions; and
- The classification of a property item.
In most cases, a contest will require legal action in order to resolve the dispute. Common will disputes include issues such as:
- Disputes over family heirlooms;
- Disputes over family land or property;
- Conflicts involving oral wills; and
- Conflicts involving will amendments or second wills.
In most cases, the court will review the existing will documents in order to determine the wishes of the deceased. If it is difficult to complete this task, the court may allow other evidence related to the will to be reviewed, such as previous gifts, receipts, and other documentation.
What are the Advantages to Hiring a Wills Lawyer?
Yes, there are many advantages to hiring a wills lawyer. If an individual does not have a will, their property may be distributed according to their state’s intestate succession laws. Under these laws, their property may not be distributed as they desire.
In addition, without the assistance of a will lawyer, it is very easy to make mistakes in an estate plan. Common mistakes include:
- Failing to list all of an individual’s property in their will or trust arrangements;
- Failing to meet the individual’s state’s legal requirements, for example, their will being properly witnessed and executed;
- Listing invalid beneficiaries on the individual’s pension, benefits, life insurance, and other accounts;
- Naming an inappropriate or incapable executor or estate administrator; or
- Failing to prepare for emergencies, including a prolonged illness or the death of a beneficiary.
These mistakes can potentially invalidate an individual’s will or cause their estate to be tied up in probate court for a long time, possibly years. These types of delays may be costly to an individual’s loved ones and to whatever property was included. A will lawyer is the best way to avoid these types of mistakes.
What Other Costs Are Associated with Wills?
The cost of having a will prepared is pretty straight-forward. An individual’s attorney will need to know their wishes, their property, and who they want to receive property and care for minor children once they pass away.
There may be other costs if the individual wants to create an estate plan that includes tools in addition to their will. There may also be costs associated with making changes to an individual’s will after it is drafted. These costs, however, are worth the peace of mind knowing that their wishes will be carried out.
Do I Need to Hire a Will Lawyer?
Yes, it is essential to have an experienced will lawyer assisting you with your estate planning needs, including wills. Your lawyer can help you determine the best tools for your estate plan. Having a lawyer draft your will and estate plan is the best way to ensure your loved ones are cared for after you pass away.