- A will can cost anywhere from zero to $8,000, depending on how you make it.
- If your estate is more complex, making a will may cost you more money.
- Every expert we spoke with agreed that some will is better than none.
Planning what will happen when you die is not an interesting topic, but it is necessary to ensure that your family can achieve your ultimate wish. A will sets out what will happen to your assets and who will take care of your minor children after you are gone.
We spoke with several experts to help estimate the cost of creating a will and other estate planning documents. The cost ranges for these projects vary widely. Regardless of your budget, every expert we spoke with agreed, Some Having a will is better than none at all. Most people recommend that you make a will as soon as you become an adult.
How the Different Types of Wills Work
This is a handwritten will freeminus the piece of paper you’re writing on, and possibly a small notary fee.
“If you’re drafting a holographic will, do it as comprehensively as possible, so as not to cause problems for your family if you die,” said Erin Bury, CEO of online will platform Willful. “And I’ll note, holographic wills Not valid in some states.”
“fill in the blank” will
You can buy will kits at many office supply stores, and cost Prices range from $20 to $40depending on where you get it from.
“I call them the crazy library of estate planning,” Bury said. “They’re not custom-made. They’re fill-in-the-blank documents. But unlike a holographic will, it has a template so you don’t have to know what to put down.”
There are several websites you can use to create a will from the comfort of your own home, including Trust and Will and Willful. These sites will provide templates created by local attorneys for your financial situation and the state you live in. Fees range from $99 to $200.
will be with a lawyer
This is the most traditional way many people think about creating a will, and you can sit down with an attorney to discuss your situation. You’ll get custom estate planning documents, and attorneys’ fees vary widely.you can pay As low as $250 or as much as $8,000 or more.
“I think it’s an investment or insurance plan,” said Rochelle Schultz, an attorney with estate planning law firm Weinstock Manion. “It’s not something you need to do often, and it’s not a cost you’ll have to bear forever.”
What factors affect the cost of a will?
country of residence: Where you live has a significant impact on the cost of your will. “In Los Angeles, where I practice, an average estate plan can cost around $4,500 to $8,500, not just your will,” Schultz said.
Patrick Hicks, legal director at Trust and Will, said higher-cost locations often required more than just estate planning wills. “In many cases, in those high-priced places, having that willingness alone is very rare,” Hicks said. “So for a variety of reasons, the $1,500 will you see in San Francisco is almost never an option. A Will in Topeka might cost $500 and fit, but you’ll pay more in San Francisco. “
The complexity of your estate: This includes factors such as probate requirements in different states, the number of children you have, your unique type of assets, and any gifts or charitable donations you want to give.
The cost of your estate plan can vary greatly depending on what you need to do, says Jack Hales, an estate and probate attorney with Hales and Sellers. “At the absolute lowest end, if you need a simple will, power of attorney, and nothing fancy, the cost for an individual is $750. For a married couple, it’s $1,200. Once you start making an estate plan , “
Your desired level of involvement in the process: Most of the time, when you use a lawyer to draft your will, you will be paid by the hour. If you have a lot of questions to ask, it will cost you more. Bury recommends entering the office with some key decisions already made. You can find resources online about common decisions in the estate planning process and have answers prepared ahead of time, she said.
what type would you choose: As mentioned above, the type of will you choose has a significant impact on the cost. A will created by a lawyer will cost more than a holographic will. Lawyers can also charge different rates based on their level of experience in the field.
Notarized Will: It’s not a huge cost and will usually cost you around $10, says Indrika Arnold, senior wealth advisor at The Colony Group.
How Often Should You Renew Your Will?
Most experts we interviewed define wills as living documents and recommend that you should update them every five to ten years, or whenever you go through a major life event such as childbirth or divorce. Bury recommends reviewing your will every year, even if you haven’t made any changes to it.
The cost of updating a will depends on the level of complexity and the company you use. Small changes using a lawyer can cost you a few hundred dollars, while updating your will through an online platform can cost you as little as $20.
What other documents are usually included in a will?
The experts we spoke with agreed that it is not common to obtain a will separately, and many times, you can combine common documents with a will to develop your comprehensive estate plan. These may include:
- enduring power of attorney: A Lasting Power of Attorney gives a person the legal authority to manage their property or financial affairs on behalf of another person. In estate planning, a durable power of attorney comes into play when you are unable to make decisions for yourself because of a mental or physical disability.
- Health Care Power of Attorney: A Health Care Power of Attorney appoints someone to make medical decisions for you if you are no longer able.
- Revocable Trust: A trust is designed to allow a trustee to manage and distribute assets to beneficiaries after a person dies. A revocable trust allows the person to change their directions or terminate the trust entirely during their lifetime. With a revocable trust, beneficiaries can avoid probate court and guardianship or custody proceedings.
What is the fee structure of a will?
You may be charged:
- per hour: You will pay hourly for the time it takes to make your will.
- Fixed costs: You will pay a predefined flat rate to create your will.
- On an à la carte basis: You will decide which estate planning documents to include and pay per project. This is a relatively rare option.
Visiting multiple law firms is the primary way to make price comparisons, although some websites and companies do list rates. For example, there is no “willing market” similar to student loan sites like Credible and Splash Financial.
“Honestly, it’s hard for individual consumers to understand the price structure because even sitting in a lawyer’s office, you don’t know what you’re going to get,” Hicks said.