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Looking to get your financial affairs in order? Read our handy guide to find out how much your estate planner or will writer charge for their services.
All of us need to state legally what we would like to happen to our assets, when the time comes that we are no longer here. Or, if we reach a point in our lives that we are no longer able to make our own decisions, due to a mental or physical impairment.
Estate planning will dictate who your assets are to go to, when and in what form. Working all of the details out while you are able to, will reduce stress on your loved ones. It will also make sure you get the final say on what happens to your own assets, rather than the government deciding for you. The process needs to be done in a thoughtful way, ensuring the instructions are clear, but also so that you minimize any cost or tax implications.
While the term ‘estate’ might seem like something that’s only for the most well off in society, you might be surprised to learn that everyone has an estate. The term covers things such as your house, car, bank account, investments, and possessions. So in essence, estate planning is making sure that each of these assets is distributed in a way in which you approve of, while you are able to make such decisions.
When sorting out your final wishes, you’ll come across the term estate planning and wills among many others. While both estate planning and wills have some similarities, one is more complex than the other.
A will records your last will and testament. This includes how you want your assets to be divided. Wills are usually quite concise, in that they don’t go into further detail about business management or healthcare instructions, as an example.
Estate planning takes a more rounded approach to your wishes and instructions, both on a personal and practical level. In many cases, estate planning will include drawing up a will and a trust if applicable. Also included would be a power of attorney, healthcare directives, along with any other legal documents that help manage your estate.
If you own a business, have had more than one marriage, want to donate some of your assets to charity, or have specific requests about your assets, then estate plans are advisable. But, if you simply want to make a record of who is to benefit from your estate, then a will may suffice.
The cost of estate planning ranges between $350 and $650 per hour. Therefore, you should expect a total cost of between $4,000 and $10,000. Though, some lawyers will offer basic estate planning for as little as $1,000 as part of a package deal, so it’s worth shopping around.
The cost varies significantly because no two people have the same amount of assets or even wishes. On a basic level, you may just want to record your requests relating to asset division. However, more comprehensive estate planning looks at wealth management, especially where children are concerned.
|Average cost (per hour)||$450|
|Minimum cost (per hour)||$350|
|Maximum cost (per hour)||$650|
The cost of estate planning also depends on your location and the experience of the professional. As a general rule, lawyers in metropolitan areas such as Sydney will charge more for their services. But in remote areas where the cost of living is not as high, it’s possible to find lawyers who charge as little as $350 (or much less) an hour.
It’s sometimes possible to get a will drawn up for free, and this will usually be done as part of your wider estate plan. Though, given estate plans are more comprehensive not to mention expensive, they aren’t going to suit everyone. In such a case, you can simply opt to have a will drawn up instead which will be cheaper overall.
The cost of having a will drawn up varies between $500 and $800 on average when done through a lawyer.
It is possible to find will writing services being advertised for a cheap fee. However, caution should be applied as if your will is not written by a legal professional (i.e a lawyer) then the document may not be watertight. So ensure they are a regulated legal professional according to your state laws.
The cost of estate planning varies depending on several factors, including:
Type of estate planning
The estate type
Number of beneficiaries involved
Estate planning covers a wide range of aspects that look to untangle any potential issues. For example, whether you’ve been married before, have investments, own a business, etc. As part of your estate plan, you may wish to draw up a power of attorney. This will give one person a say over what happens while you are alive but incapacitated, or after you have passed away. The price of getting a power of attorney varies between $300 and $550 depending on your location.
Though it’s good to remember that if drawing up an estate plan, then each of these aspects will likely be cheaper when grouped together, rather than approaching a lawyer for individual aspects.
|Type of Estate planning||Highest average price||Lowest average price|
|Power of attorney||$550||$300|
|Appointment of enduring guardian cost||$340||$210|
Estates are made up of many different asset types that you may have collected over your lifetimes. Some will be physical items, and others exist elsewhere. So for example, land, property, cash, cars, boats, antiques, etc are all tangible assets. Stocks, investments, or insurance policies aren’t things you can pick up and grab, so are intangible. These terms will get you thinking about everything you own beyond what you have in the bank. That’s because all of your assets need to be taken care of within your estate plan.
Estate planning will either be done by the hour or as a fixed fee. On average, it takes between 20 and 25 hours to draw up a complex estate plan. Again, for extremely large (over $1,000,000) or complex estates, you should expect some variation on this.
Whether you have a small or a large number of beneficiaries, will affect how complex your estate plan is. Some choose to leave their estate only to their immediate family, whereas others include charitable causes. So, have a clear plan in mind about who you want to receive your assets before you begin the process.
The experience of your lawyer (i.e newly qualified versus senior partner) will affect how much they charge.
Legal services are rarely cheap regardless, though the location, of course, plays a factor in the total cost. Except cities such as Melbourne and Sydney to charge more.
|Location||Average lawyer cost (per hour)|
If no will or estate plan is made, then you do not have a say about what happens to your assets in the event that you die or become incapacitated. Therefore, estate planning or at the very least writing a will is absolutely essential. Contrary to popular belief, wills aren’t just for the elderly either! Anyone who has any assets should make a plan through their lawyer.
Regardless of which area you are in, the whole process can become very complex for those left behind. But if you’ve stated your wishes in a legal capacity, it will make everything a lot easier. So, it is well worth estate planning or at least drawing up a will, regardless of the value of your estate.
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The average rating for Bark Will Writers is 4.85, based on 564 reviews