The topic related to the cost of a Will preparation may seem daunting at first glance for most Will-makers. This article will explain what a Will-maker should prepare for, before drafting their Will. A Will is a legal document that sets out a person’s last wishes and intentions before he/she passes away.
Usually, a person may not know how important a Will is until they start gaining assets and properties of their own. This is especially the case if a person acquires assets and houses that have a high value. However, regardless of financial position, each person must write a Will of their own. Why is this so?
A person dying without a Will (dying intestate) may cause problems for his/her intended beneficiaries in the future. Generally, courts will handle an estate of a person who died intestate and distribute it according to intestacy laws and regulations. Indeed, these laws may go against a deceased person’s actual wishes and intentions. Hence, it’s important to know the cost of a Will preparation.
Cost of Will Preparation: Estate Planning
Estate planning is the process of arranging who will receive the assets and property of a deceased person. People who plan their estates can ensure that their wealth and assets go to the intended beneficiaries, not anyone else. A good estate plan can also:
- Minimise taxes
- Reduce and prevent family disputes
- Clarify a deceased’s directives
- Protect the deceased’s heirs
- Help avoid the time and expense of probate. Probate is the legal process of validating a Will and this process may take a long time to finish.
The cost of a Will preparation will vary because each estate plan has unique needs. Hence, there’s no foolproof way of finding out the costs involved in estate planning right away. For instance, James and Jessie are making an estate plan that will let their minor children inherit their estate when they pass away.
James and Jessie also had a chicken farm which recently had good progress in terms of sales. As a result, this increased the value of their estate plan and both of them will have to make necessary provisions. Will they sell it and give the money to their respective beneficiaries or let someone inherit the business?
Wills and What To Include in Them
Assets and Beneficiaries
Beneficiaries are the people who may receive a deceased person’s remaining assets and/or even property. The deceased’s children, spouse, surviving relatives, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, charities/organisations, blended family, and/or close friends may act as beneficiaries. It’s important that the Will-maker also include each beneficiary’s contact details. Beneficiaries may either receive:
- Heirlooms and specific gifts
- Specific amount of money. The cost of a Will preparation will also vary depending on how much a Will-maker will leave for his beneficiaries. It’s highly important for Will-makers to note down the specific amount to avoid confusion for the beneficiaries.
- Stocks or bonds
- Cash from the deceased’s bank accounts
- Antique objects
- Property or any other house or land
- Bequests or legacies (for charities/organisations)
Provisions for Disputes
Making provisions for disputes may prevent any family dispute in the future such as Will contests or challenges. People challenge a Will if they think they should receive more of what the Will originally gave them. While people challenging a Will think that the Will is invalid for reasons like:
- The Will-maker having no testamentary capacity when he/she wrote the Will
- Undue influence on the Will-maker
- The Will-maker making multiples Wills
Appointment of Legal Guardians
A deceased may only appoint legal guardians if he/she has children under 18. This legal guardian must have the testamentary capacity, willingness, and responsibility to care for children. Will-makers may even assign a nominated pet carer if the deceased has pets since pets are considered as legal property in Australia.
Appointment of an Executor
Executors are the people responsible for handling the distribution of a deceased’s assets and finances to intended beneficiaries. Another responsibility of an executor is handling the deceased’s debts and obtaining probate when necessary. The Supreme Court of NSW has a table of expenses that sets out the cost of probate depending on an asset’s value.
What is a DIY Will Kit?
A DIY Will kit is an online downloadable form that has a fixed template mainly for people who want to make a simple Will. While the cheap rates of a DIY Will kit are desirable, it is not legally binding in accordance with state laws and regulations. It is better for one to write their own Will with an estate lawyer instead of using Will kits.
Cost of Will Preparation: Types of Estate Planning Fees
Lawyers are most qualified to aid in the estate planning process for Will-makers. Therefore, it’s important to know how much they charge for estate planning. Not all estate lawyers use the same pricing system Below are some types of fees related to estate planning that may help you with budgeting.
Some lawyers charge an hourly rate if they cannot use fixed fee pricing. However, they may also ask for a retainer fee which is like an advanced payment/down payment. Lawyers typically charge this type of rate if they think that the estate plan will require more time to draft.
Lawyers may also use a contingency fee if their client will need monetary compensation for the estate planning. Let’s use Jessie and James as an example again. For instance, James and Jessie filed a defamation case because James’ cousin spread rumours that destroyed his reputation. Fortunately, James won the case and his cousin had to pay his legal fees along with award money for the damages caused.
James paid his lawyer a contingency fee which results in the lawyer receiving a percentage of the awarded money. Estate planners don’t have much use of contingency fees since using this fee will require an opposing side. However, some probate lawyers will use a contingency fee if their client wants to settle an estate.
Fixed fees are the most reliable type of fee when discussing the cost of a Will preparation. Indeed, no estate is similar in terms of costs, size, and value. Moreover, some Will-makers want to ensure that they won’t have to stress about their finances while drafting documents when preparing a Will. That’s why a lot of Will-makers prefer fixed fees since they get the most out of a lawyer’s professional services. Fixed-fees may differ depending on whether you are preparing a simple or complex Will.
Our Estate Planning Lawyers’ Proper Legal Advice
JB Solicitors can offer fixed fees when discussing the cost of a Will preparation. Truly, there is no reliable way of calculating the cost of preparation of a Will as there are many varying factors that determine this. That’s why our team of lawyers help Will-makers focus on their estate plan without having to worry about the costs of our legal services. We can also aid people who may want to contest or challenge a Will in legal proceedings.
Contact us today for more information about the cost of a Will preparation.