A well drafted will prepared by an attorney generally costs between $300 to $1500+. Variance within this range depends on the prevailing rates within the local market, whether the attorney charges a flat fee or fixed rate, and the complexity of the will. Once you know the secrets to how attorney-prepared wills are priced, however, you may decide to create your will online instead with Just In Case Estates or a similar drafting solution.
Prevailing rates within the local market
The cost for a will prepared by an attorney in New York City tends to be more expensive than one prepared by an attorney in Rochester. Law firms competing in denser, urban areas tend to carry higher rent, wages, and other operating costs, and those higher operating costs are reflected in the ultimate price paid by the client.
Since laws governing the creation of wills are at the state level, one way to lower your cost of creating a will with an attorney may be to find a competent estate planning attorney whose legal practice is in a lower density part of your state. In the post COVID ‘Zoom’ era, many legal practices offer online meetings and consultations that can better accommodate working with out-of-town clients. If you do decide to go this route, be aware that some attorneys may still prefer that you travel onsite to their office for the signing ceremony executing your will.
Hourly vs. Fixed Fee
Hourly rates for attorneys can vary from $150 to $400+ / hour depending on the experience of the attorney and the local market.
If you plan to create your will with an estate planning attorney on an hourly basis, make sure that you have a sense for the meeting cadence. In most cases, these meetings and other billable hours for creating a will run anywhere from 1 to 4 hours. Where you fall in that range depends on the style of the attorney and how prepared you are going into the meetings. By preparing your free template Estate Planning Profile and Inventory in advance of the meetings, you can speed up the process considerably.
Many attorneys charge clients a fixed fee for preparing their wills. The fixed fee offers pricing certainty and may even improve the quality of the resulting will as the client tends to be less concerned with “managing the clock,” rushing through creating the estate plan to control billable hours.
Complexity of the Will
A simple will costs less than a more involved one, and preparing a will for one individual costs less than preparing two wills for a couple. That being said, one reason why attorneys can price wills as a fixed fee is because the vast majority of wills are not all that complicated to begin with. If you find yourself trying to create a highly complex will, it’s probably a sign that you picked the wrong estate planning instrument and you’d be better off with a revocable living trust or other trust-based estate plan product.
The cost of preparing a will with an experienced estate planning attorney can vary from $300-$1500+. For some individuals, that price is well worth the extra comfort knowing that the estate planning attorney can help them avoid drafting mistakes they may encounter using a free online will form from the Internet.
On the other hand, as long as do a small bit of preparation and pick a reputable online estate planning solution that offers state-specific documents and other resources to help you along the way, you can save time and a lot of money by creating your will online with a solution like Just In Case Estates.