How much does a will cost?

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If you are visiting LifePlanLaw.com and not asking this question, perhaps you already know the point of this article.  A will can cost very little, or it can cost you your life savings.  The difference has nothing to do with the document called a “will.”  It has everything to do with how thoughtful the lawyer was when drafting the will.

The public, and lawyers for that matter, tend to think the price of a will should be based on how long it takes the lawyer to draft it, and every five-page will should cost the same.  I encourage you to think about the value of your will instead of how many pages come off the computer or how long it took the lawyer to draft it.

Members of the public can draft their own wills using online services like Legalzoom and Rocket Lawyer or software packages from Office Depot. These services cost less to use than your average lawyer.  They definitely cost less than a thoughtful and thorough lawyer who spends hours speaking with you to learn your specific circumstances, assets, and goals and then uses years of training and experience to draft a will that meets your specific circumstances, protects your specific assets, and accomplishes your specific goals. If your circumstances, assets, and goals are very simple and direct, an online system or software package may be appropriate for you.  However, even with seemingly simple and direct circumstances and goals, an online system or software may steer you in exactly the wrong direction.

Let me give you an example.  A client came to me after her mother passed away and brought her mother’s will.   The will stated that she was to inherit her mother’s home, but other lawyers told her she could not inherit the home.  The lawyers were correct.  Why?

The Florida constitution has very specific provisions governing homestead property.  Article X, section 4 of the Florida constitution says many things.  Among them, the constitution says you cannot will your homestead to one child if you are married or you have a minor child.  This client’s mother was married.  She had not lived with her spouse for many years, but they never divorced. The Florida constitution does not care if a spouse lives in the home.  It does not care if the spouse is a good person who cared deeply for the family or a person who abandoned the family forty years ago.  If you are married, you cannot will your home to one child.  If you are married, you cannot will your home to all of your children.  You cannot disinherit your spouse or your minor children.

In the above example, the will failed.  The property must pass to the spouse for life and after death of the spouse to all of the woman’s children.  (There is one exception to this – in which the spouse receives a half interest in the home and the children receive the other half.)  Nothing can be done about this now.  It may have been inexpensive to prepare that will, but it cost the daughter her mother’s home.

I have seen many examples like this.  I cannot prepare a will, trust, power of attorney, health care directive, deed, or anything else for a client without knowing the client’s specific circumstances, assets, and goals.  Often, there are many choices available to accomplish the client’s goals.  At LifePlanLaw.com, Cathy and Adam ask many questions and listen carefully.  We succeed when we accomplish the client’s goals – not when we draft a will.

If you have questions and would benefit from a personal meeting with Cathy, she offers a complimentary consultation.  This consultation often takes approximately two hours and is very thorough.  At the end of the consultation, we will give you our recommendations and, in almost all instances, a flat fee for your personalized life plan package.

Even though the lawyers at LifePlanLaw.com draft wills and other documents to accomplish clients’ specific goals, we recognize that many people have straightforward goals.  If your circumstances and goals are straightforward, LifePlanLaw.com offers two basic life plan packages for a flat fee.

For a life plan package consisting of a straightforward will, power of attorney, and health care directives, the flat fee is $750 per person with an in-person consultation.  Of course, this includes explaining the final documents, executing your life plan documents at our office, and receiving your original documents in a notebook along with a set of copies.  The cost of more complex life plans, including revocable trusts, special deeds, carefully arranging assets titles and beneficiaries, etc., depends on the complexity of those plans.

If you do not need an in-person consultation, already know who you want to receive your assets, want those people or charities to receive assets outright upon your death, and have the names and addresses of the persons you trust to serve as the personal representative (“executor”) of your estate, power of attorney, and health care surrogate, LifePlanLaw.com offers a discounted “Simple Life Plan Package.”  With this package, you fill out a form online at LifePlanLaw.com.  We will review your form, make sure there are no legal difficulties accomplishing your goals, discuss any questions with you by telephone, and prepare your documents.  You will then execute your documents at our office and receive the originals and a copy. The cost of the online Simple Life Plan Package is $375 per person.

If you would like to consider the online Simple Life Plan Package, click HERE.

If you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation, click HERE.

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