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How Much Does Wills And Estate Planning Cost?

Average Price
$250 - $400 per hour

What is the price of Estate Planning?

Want to set out your final wishes with estate planning or a will? Read our handy guide to find out how much your estate planner or will writer charge for their services.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning allows you to set out instructions about how you want your assets to be divided, either after your death or due to mental or physical impairment later in life. 

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.

Estate Planning vs a Will

A common question is, what’s the difference between estate planning and a will? 

Wills record 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.

How much does Estate Planning cost? 

The cost of estate planning ranges between $250 and $400 per hour, with the average estate plan taking between 20 and 25 hours to draw up. Therefore, you should expect a total cost of between $5,000 and $10,000

The cost varies because estate planning is a complex matter, with no two people having the same 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) $250
Minimum cost (per hour) $150
Maximum cost (per hour) $400

The cost of estate planning also depends on your location and the experience of the professional. As a general rule, lawyers in California and New York tend to charge far more compared with other areas of the country. So it’s worth shopping around to find the right services and price, depending on the level of estate planning you require. 

How much does a Will cost? 

Sometimes wills are included as part of an 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 $800 and $1,500 on average when done through a lawyer.

Average cost$940
Minimum cost$800
Maximum cost$1,500

It is possible to find cheaper will writing services. 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. 

What changes the price of Estate Planning? 

The cost of estate planning varies depending on several factors, including: 

  • Type of estate planning 

  • The estate type

  • Time

  • Number of beneficiaries involved

  • Experience

  • Location

Type of Estate Planning 

As mentioned above, your estate doesn’t just include how much money you have in the bank. It looks at whether you’ve been married before, have investments, own a business, etc. There is a long list of considerations that may mean you require additional services or not. For example, 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 $150 and $450 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 planningHighest average priceLowest average price
Power of attorney$400$150
Health care proxy$450$200

The estate type

Your estate types can be broken down into tangible (physical) and intangible (non-physical) assets. 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. 

Time

The time it will take in hours for your lawyer to create your estate plan will determine the cost. This includes the time to talk everything through with you, and finalize it with them.

Lawyers may charge by the hour for estate planning, or charge a flat fee based on the 20-25 hour average the entire process takes. Again, for extremely large (over $1,000,000) or complex estates, you should expect some variation on this. 

Number of beneficiaries involved

The more beneficiaries you have for your estate plan, the more complex it will be. For example, 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. 

Experience

All lawyers must be qualified to practice, though of course, their experience will differ greatly. As with any service you wish to hire, the more experienced or specialized the individual is, the more they are likely to cost. 

Location

Legal services are rarely cheap regardless, though the location of course plays a factor in the total cost. 

LocationAverage lawyer cost (per hour)
California$400
Texas$280
New York$344
Wisconsin$230
Colorado$245

Is it worth getting Estate Planning?

Absolutely. After all, having worked your whole life to acquire your assets, you want to make sure they go to the right people when you’re no longer around. 

If no will or estate plan is made, then you do not have a say about who can access your assets. Regardless of which state 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. 

In search of Estate Planning or Will Writing? Find the best professional for the job on Bark today. 

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