A Will is like everything else – you get what you pay for.
Asking “how much does a Will cost?” is a lot like asking “how much does a house cost?”. There is no simple answer.
When making a Will, you are dealing with your legacy, your loved ones’ futures, and often hundreds of thousands of dollars of assets. So your Will deserves the appropriate attention, and not just skimping to get something down on paper that will be completely unsatisfactory in the long run.
A poorly done Will can be worse than no Will at all.
Also, bear in mind that you probably spend at least $1,500 on your home and contents insurance each year, and a Will is a form of insurance.
Will Kits – up to $50 each
Will kits are available for many News Agencies, and are often given away for free as a bonus with other purchases in the finance and insurance industries.
Will kits may be suitable in a limited number of situations, but if you have children, they are unlikely to meet your needs. Will kits don’t full explain everything that a person should know before making their Will. It won’t explain the relationship between your Will and your superannuation, nor will it explain who could make a claim against your Will and how to protect against that.
Mistakes are often made in meaning, and also in signing it correctly. These mistakes can cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars if you die and the Will kit needs to be relied on.
So Will kits are rarely the preferred option. You should spend a bit more now to save thousands later.
Internet Wills: up to $150 each
These are similar to Will kits, though they are produced by entering details online and then you get the resulting document produced. If no solicitor is overseeing the process and contacting you for specific instructions and to give you advice, then you just have a standardised kit which cannot give you specific advice for your circumstances.
All the same problems can arise with these forms of standardised Wills as they can from Will kits.
Simple Wills: from $250 each
Solicitors can do a simple Will for you from as little as $250. This may be reduced during special promotions, such as Law Week, or through the Salvation Army that have lawyers help with their Will Day.
A simple Will would involve appointing an executor, and usually leaving all the residue of your estate to your spouse or someone else, and then a gift over clause in case that person dies. There would be some basic trustee powers as well. But the simple Will would not include specific gifts, it probably won’t deal specifically with your superannuation, it wouldn’t allow you to deal with assets individually, and wouldn’t include any other special rights or options for beneficiaries.
If your circumstances are very simple, then a solicitor-prepared simple Will is your best option. However, you may think that your circumstances are simple until you get advice from a solicitor. You should be prepared that a simple Will is not appropriate for you at all.
Blended Family Wills: from $450 each
As soon as your family situation is not straight forward, your Will needs more attention than a simple will. A second marriage, children to more than one spouse, a de facto partner, or even if you have a family business that some of the children are involved in but not others – these are circumstances that need some special attention with a solicitor who has appropriate knowledge and experience.
A solicitor will have strategies, and tricks and tips, to achieve special bequests and arrangements in your Will to make sure that you leave the legacy that you want. You don’t want your family to be fighting after you’re gone, so spend the time and money to get it right.
Testamentary Trusts: from $650 each
If you want to set up a complex trust in your Will for your children, to protect your assets and give your children the benefits of incoming splitting and tax effective planning, then be prepared to spend more.
I recommend that most parents have testamentary trusts for their children, as the cost of setting it up will be worth it in the long run. If both you and your spouse die, then a testamentary trust is often the best you can do for your kids, and whilst there are some ongoing costs in running the testamentary trust, the tax savings can make it worthwhile.
The cost of a Will will also depend on how your solicitor charges. If they charge on an hourly rate, and you need a number of appointments to complete your Will, then you will pay more for it. If you see a solicitor that gives you a fixed fee, be prepared that the fee may change if your circumstances are more complex than originally thought.
Finally, you are often paying for the experience and qualifications of your solicitor, and also their brand. Firms in the CBD of a capital city will charge a premium just for their location and prestige. A solicitor who is an accredited specialist will charge more, because you can expect that you would get more complex legal advice and complex drafting in the Will.
So, there’s no simple answer to the question of how much a Will costs. Hopefully, by reading this article and others on my website, you are doing solid research and giving the appropriate attention to something so important for your children and loved ones.
The other important thing when deciding on how to prepare your Will is to find a solicitor that you trust and feel confident with. You want a solicitor that listens to you and with whom you feel comfortable talking about your family and the relationships you have with them. Don’t be scared to meet with a few lawyers before committing to proceed with one – you can often meet a solicitor and get some advice before giving them instructions to prepare the Will.
This article is written by Jacqui Brauman and was first published on the TBA Law website
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to practising lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Legally Yours Pty Ltd accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.