How Much Do You Charge for a Will?
That’s a question we hear frequently from callers to the office. While we like to be able to answer that question quickly and easily, that’s not possible. My favorite lawyer’s answer applies: “well, it depends.” Depends on what, you ask? Here are some of the factors that impact the fee for a Will:
Are you married?
Will your spouse be doing planning as well?
Are you in a second marriage with children from a prior marriage?
Are you separated but not divorced?
Do you have a settlement agreement?
Do you have a prenuptial agreement?
What are your obligations, if any, upon your death?
Do you have minor children?
Do you have any elderly or disabled family member you wish to provide for?
What’s the total value of your estate?
What are the values of the individual assets?
Do you own real estate?
Where’s it located?
Do you own joint property?
Do you have any life insurance?
Who’s the beneficiary?
Do you have retirement accounts?
Who’s the beneficiary?
Do you own a business?
Have you made large gifts in the past?
Do you have any debts or other financial obligations that will survive your death?
Then there are other questions to consider:
Have you considered a living trust to provide privacy and avoid probate?
What about Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Living Wills and HIPAA Authorizations? For some, these documents are more important than a Will.
Do you want to protect your heirs from creditors, predators and mismanagement of the inheritance?
What’s the best way to handle estate tax planning (looking toward 2011 and a possible reduced exemption of $1 million).
What’s the best way to handle charitable gifts from an income and estate tax standpoint?
What about advice and counseling about the process and pieces of estate planning
As you can see, it’s virtually impossible to quote a one-size fits all fee for a Will (or complete estate plan, for that matter). Any law firm who does that will most likely be providing a cookie cutter Will that doesn’t fully address your particular situation. And online and software do-it-yourself Wills are even worse!
My advice is to make sure you have a lawyer who specializes in estate planning assist you with your estate plan. Isn’t it worth the time and cost to ensure that you and your family are fully protected?