How much should you expect to pay to have your will or other estate planning documents put in place? As you might expect, that will depend on the nature of your estate planning needs, and the nature of the law firm you retain. Because the fee can vary greatly among legal service providers, it makes sense to obtain quotes and make inquiries from multiple law firms in your area before hiring an attorney. But know that the cheapest quote on a will is not necessarily the best deal; nor is it necessarily the best way to save money for yourself and ultimately your heirs. Here are four things you should consider when shopping for an attorney to prepare your Last Will and Testament and other estate planning needs.
- Flat Fee or Hourly Rate? While many legal services are charged by the hour, estate planning work including a Last Will and Testament is often charged at a flat fee rate, so that you will know exactly what you can expect to pay before you sign on with a firm to prepare your documents. Hourly rates can introduce uncertainty into the process, so be sure to find out how much you should expect to pay, and whether the fee will be due up front or at the signing. Ideally, fees will be transparent – even available on the firm’s website. A complete quote may be contingent on determining on the complexity of your will, but by the end of an initial consultation you should know what your costs will be for going ahead with that firm, and what will be included in that fee.
- What is included? Most attorneys are capable of turning your wishes into a lawful Last Will and Testament. However, a will should be constructed in the context of your entire plan. Does the fee include a general estate planning discussion? In addition, wills are often packaged with other essential documents everyone should have in place – not to plan for their death but for the contingencies of life: a health care power of attorney, a living will, and a general power of attorney. You can typically execute all four (4) documents for only slightly more than a will alone. Many firms offer package deals for couples. Even better, some firms include free consultations for your loved ones after you pass away. This can give you the peace of mind that your family will know where to turn for help after your death.