How Much Does It Cost To Make A Will With A Lawyer?

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How much does it cost to make a will with a lawyer? 

In this article, you’ll learn about: 

  • how much it costs to make a will with a lawyer
  • simple estates vs complex estates
  • the types of wills and how much each will cost
  • what all is included in your will
  • the requirements for making a valid will

Let’s dig in.

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How Much Does It Cost To Make A Will With A Lawyer?

The cost to make a will with a lawyer ranges from $750 – $1,500.

For a simple will, the cost could be around $750.

But the cost of a will for larger, more complicated estates is $1,500+.

Cost Of A Simple Estate

A simple will is often sufficient for individuals who have straightforward estate planning needs. 

This will minimize the cost of making a will with a lawyer. 

Here are some circumstances in which a simple will might be all that’s necessary:

  • Small to Moderate Estate Size: Simple wills are most appropriate for individuals who do not have a large or complex estate. This can include typical assets such as a house, car, bank accounts, and personal belongings.
  • Straightforward Asset Distribution: If you intend to divide your estate equally among your children or leave everything to your spouse, for example, a simple will should be sufficient.
  • No Complex Trusts or Tax Issues: If you don’t need to set up any complex trusts or manage estate tax issues, a simple will is usually enough. Trusts and tax planning often require more complex wills or additional estate planning documents.
  • Single Beneficiary or Few Beneficiaries: If you’re leaving your entire estate to a single person or evenly divided among a few people (like your children), a simple will should cover it.
  • No Business Ownership: If you own a business, its succession planning can complicate your estate. A simple will may not be sufficient to handle the transfer of business ownership upon your death.
  • No Special Needs Dependents: If you have a dependent with special needs, you might need more than a simple will to ensure their future care is properly handled without jeopardizing any government benefits they may receive.

Cost Of A Complex Estate

A complex will is often needed for more than simple estates. 

This happens when a person’s assets or wishes go beyond the basics. 

Let’s look at situations that may call for a complex will:

  • Larger Estates: When an individual has a large estate with numerous or high-value assets, the will needs to handle the distribution of these assets effectively. This could involve multiple real estate properties, investments, business interests, or valuable personal property.
  • Multiple Beneficiaries: If there are multiple beneficiaries, particularly if they are spread across different states or countries, a will may become more complex. This is due to the necessity to comply with various legal jurisdictions.
  • Trusts: The inclusion of trusts in a will adds complexity. Trusts are legal arrangements where assets are held by one party for the benefit of another. Types of trusts can include revocable living trusts, testamentary trusts, special needs trusts, and more.
  • Tax Planning: For estates that may be subject to estate tax, the will may need to include specific strategies for minimizing this tax burden. This often involves the creation of certain types of trusts or other legal mechanisms.
  • Business Ownership: If the person making the will owns part or all of a business, this can greatly increase the complexity of the will. Provisions must be made for the continuation or dissolution of the business upon the owner’s death.
  • Special Circumstances: This can include a range of scenarios, such as provisions for a disabled family member, wishes for specific personal property, pet trusts, or any other specific wishes that the individual wants to be carried out after their death.

Read More: How Much Does An Estate Have To Be Worth To Go To Probate?

Types Of Wills That Lawyers Make

Here is a list of different types of wills with brief explanations for each:

  • Simple Will: A simple will is a basic document where an individual, known as the testator, outlines how their assets and properties should be distributed after death. It typically includes naming an executor, beneficiaries, and may include guardianship details if the testator has minor children.
  • Testamentary Trust Will: This type of will sets up one or more trusts for the distribution of part or all of the estate. It is particularly useful for individuals who wish to establish trusts for their children or other beneficiaries to receive assets at a later time, or under certain conditions.
  • Joint Will: A joint will is made by two people, usually a married couple, and outlines how they want their assets to be distributed after both of them have passed away. It combines both individuals’ wishes into one document.
  • Living Will (Advance Directive): A living will is not actually a will in the traditional sense. It’s a document that outlines an individual’s preferences regarding medical treatment and interventions in case they become incapacitated and unable to communicate their wishes.
  • Pour-Over Will: A pour-over will is used in conjunction with a living trust. It ensures that any assets not titled in the name of the trust during the testator’s lifetime will be transferred into the trust upon the testator’s death.
  • Holographic Will: A holographic will is a will that is handwritten and signed by the testator. It does not require witnesses, but it is not recognized or valid in all jurisdictions, and is generally not recommended as it can often lead to legal complications.
  • Nuncupative Will: Also known as an oral will, a nuncupative will is spoken rather than written, often in extenuating circumstances, such as when a person is near death and unable to create a written will. These are often not recognized or are very limited in scope and acceptance.
  • Codicil: A codicil is not a standalone will but an amendment to an existing will. It is used to make changes or additions to the terms of the original will without having to write an entirely new document.
  • Self-Proving Will: A self-proving will includes an affidavit signed by the testator and witnesses, which serves as proof of the validity of the will. This can expedite the probate process because the court does not need to independently verify the signatures.
  • Reciprocal or Mirror Wills: These are typically created by couples and mirror each other in terms of content. Essentially, each will leaves the same bequests to the same beneficiaries but in two separate documents.
  • Conditional Will: A conditional will is one that only takes effect if certain conditions are met at the time of the testator’s death. For example, a will might state that it is only valid if the testator dies as a result of certain circumstances.

Now, we know what your options are for wills. 

Let’s look at how much it costs to make a will with a lawyer so you know what to expect.

How Much Does Each Type Of Will Cost?

Let’s look at how much each type of will cost. 

  • Simple Will: $750
  • Testamentary Trust Will: $2,500
  • Joint Will: $1,500
  • Living Will (Advance Directive): $1,250
  • Pour-Over Will: $2,500 (part of a trust)
  • Codicil: $1,250
  • Self-Proving Will: Included with a will.
  • Reciprocal or Mirror Wills: $1,500

Please note that these are general prices and may not reflect the current cost of a will

What To Include In A Will

Our wills include more than just the will document. 

We make sure that your will covers all of your estate planning needs. 

That’s why our will packets include:

  • Advance Directive for Health Care: Sometimes known as a living will, this document specifies what actions should be taken for the person’s health if they are no longer able to make decisions due to illness or incapacity.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: This document allows an individual to appoint someone else to make health care decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finances: Similar to the above, but this document gives someone else the authority to handle financial transactions on the individual’s behalf.
  • HIPAA Release: This document allows designated persons to access your medical information, which is important if they are making medical decisions on your behalf.
  • Letter of Intent: This is a less formal document that can be used to leave detailed instructions or wishes regarding personal items or the handling of other matters after your death.
  • Beneficiary Designations: These are typically separate forms that are filled out to designate beneficiaries for retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other assets that are not distributed through the will.
  • Revocable Living Trust (optional): This is a separate legal entity you can create to hold property. It can help your heirs avoid probate, and you can designate how the assets in the trust are managed or distributed both during your lifetime and after your death.
  • Funeral Arrangements: Some people include a document outlining specific wishes for funeral arrangements and burial or cremation.
  • Guardianship Nominations for Pets: A separate document may outline the care of pets and may be accompanied by funds set aside for their care.
  • Digital Assets Inventory and Instructions: This document lists your digital assets (like email accounts, digital photos, social media accounts, and websites) and provides instructions on how you want them handled.
  • Personal Property Memorandum: This document can list personal belongings and the persons you want to inherit them.

What Are The Requirements For A Will To Be Valid?

To be valid, a will must meet the following requirements:

  • The person making the will, known as the testator, must be at least 14 years old.
  • The testator must be of sound mind, meaning they understand the nature and extent of their property and the identity of those who are to inherit the property.
  • The will must be written. Most states do not recognize oral wills.
  • The will must be signed by the testator. If the testator cannot sign, someone else can sign on their behalf in their presence and at their direction.
  • The will must be witnessed by at least two competent people who are not beneficiaries in the will. These witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator.
  • The testator must declare to the witnesses that the document is their will.

Who Can Witness A Will?

Anyone who is at least 14 years old and of sound mind can witness a will. 

The witness must not be a beneficiary in the will or the will’s executor. 

The person creating the will, known as the testator, must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses. 

These witnesses must also sign the will in the presence of the testator. 

For added protection, it’s often recommended that witnesses are “disinterested parties.” 

Meaning they have no potential gain from the will’s provisions.

(We provide witnesses for our wills so you don’t have to worry about this.)

Does A Will Have To Be Notarized?

No, it is not a legal requirement for a will to be notarized in every state. 

There are benefits to having your will notarized, though. 

Notarizing a will can provide several benefits, even if it isn’t legally required in many jurisdictions:

  • Evidentiary Support: If a will is contested after death, a notarized will provides strong evidentiary support. It helps confirm that the will was indeed signed by the decedent and the witnesses, making it harder for someone to successfully challenge the will’s validity.
  • Preventing Fraud: Notarization involves checking the identity of the person signing the document. Thus, having a will notarized can help prevent fraud or forgery related to the signing of the will.
  • Clarity and Assurance: Having a notarized will can provide peace of mind to both the person creating the will and their loved ones. It’s another layer of assurance that the will has been executed properly and will be respected upon the person’s death.
  • Self-Proving Affidavit: In some states, you can make your will “self-proving” by having it notarized. A self-proving will speeds up the probate process because the court can accept the will without contacting the witnesses who signed it.

Do Wills Have To Be Filed With The Court?

Yes, wills need to be filed with the court. 

After a person’s death, the person in possession of the will should file it with the probate court in the county where the deceased person lived. 

This is a necessary step to begin the probate process, which validates the will and carries out its instructions. 

The court oversees the distribution of assets to ensure it follows the will’s directives. 

Filing the will with the court also allows for any potential challenges to the will’s validity.

FAQs About The Cost Of Making A Will With A Lawyer

Here are other questions clients ask us related to the cost of making a will with an attorney.

How Much Does A Probate Lawyer Cost?

The cost of hiring a probate lawyer varies greatly depending on several factors, like:

  • the complexity of the estate
  • the reputation of the lawyer
  • the specific services required

Here are some average costs for a probate lawyer that you can expect:

  • Hourly rates typically range between $200 and $500, with highly reputed lawyers potentially charging upward of $1,000 per hour.
  • It’s important to know that probate lawyers generally track their work in precise increments. For example, they often break down hours into 10-minute increments. So, if a lawyer charges $500 per hour but only works on your case for 12 minutes, then you would be charged $100.
  • Some lawyers may offer a flat fee, which can range from $3,000 to $50,000 or more, depending on the size and complexity of the estate. For relatively small estates (around $300K-$400K), a flat fee of over $10,000 might be considered high, unless the estate has significant complexities.
  • Lastly, you should expect to pay an initial retainer, which is typically between $3,000 and $10,000. However, highly reputed lawyers may require retainers of more than $20,000.

How Much Does It Cost To Probate A Will?

Probating a will costs between $1,500 to $3,000 for uncontested probate. 

However, if anyone contests the process, the cost can range from $3,000 to $10,000+. 

The fees to consider during this process include:

  • attorney fees (if you use a probate attorney)
  • appraisal fees
  • land survey fees
  • accounting fees
  • court fees
  • filing fees

Set Up A Will With A Lawyer

If you want to set up a will with our estate planning services, fill out the form below. 

At The Hive Law, we understand the importance of:

  • protecting your hard-earned assets
  • ensuring your family’s future
  • dividing and selling property
  • setting up joint ownership agreements for property

We only accommodate a limited number of clients each month.

So don’t miss your opportunity to work with our esteemed estate planning attorneys.

Benefits of our estate planning services:

  • Tailored solutions to fit your unique needs and goals
  • Expert guidance in navigating complex tax and legal matters
  • Preservation of your wealth for future generations
  • Streamlined asset distribution according to your wishes

Avoid the pitfalls of inadequate estate planning:

  • Creditors seizing your assets
  • Lawsuits jeopardizing your family’s financial security
  • Family disputes over inheritance
  • Costly and time-consuming probate processes

Talk soon.

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