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.
- How Experienced Are the Attorneys? Many attorneys and firms will agree to prepare your will but it is only a small part of their regular practice. Attorneys whose exclusive focus is estate planning and probate will have more experience with a variety of circumstances that could better anticipate and prepare for life’s complexities and uncertainties. Successful will drafting can involve precision and nuance in the language that is used. Find a firm that will take the time to ask important questions, and will customize your will to meet your specific needs. Experienced estate planning attorneys in Tennessee can save you and your family money in the long run. Will one or more of your heirs need trust protection for their inheritance? Do you need to take action to prepare for Medicaid eligibility? Will a living trust help your family avoid the expense of probate after your death? An excellent estate planning attorney will discuss scenarios you may not have considered, and will guide you through the decision-making process.
- Take Action and Get Help! However you decide to proceed, be sure you take action to have a lawful will in place, and seek the help of a Tennessee estate planning attorney. Without a will, the distribution of your estate will be determined by state law and not by you. Likewise, the person named to be in charge of administering your estate will be appointed by a court. Most importantly, be sure your will is prepared and executed under the guidance of an attorney. Websites that offer cheap robo-wills cannot guarantee that your will is lawfully executed or that it addresses all that it should.
It can cost your family far more in the long run to deal with the aftermath of a poorly written, hastily drafted or automatic will than it would to have a thoughtful and experienced estate planning attorney prepare a well-crafted document, with power of attorney protections in place, mindful of your entire estate plan and family situation.
Please contact us today online or by calling 800.705.2121 to discuss your legal options.