“How much does a simple will cost?” It depends. Some people may write their own, download a form or copy the language from a friend’s will “for free”. The cost of those documents is generally paid years later in the losses and litigation expenses of the beneficiaries.
For many people a “simple will” is not appropriate because their lives are not simple. Special provisions in their wills and other estate planning documents may be needed to address potential problems and resolve issues and conflicts that can arise. Discussing your life situation and concerns with your attorney will enable her to draft a customized plan to address your unique situation.
Many people believe that a will directs how all their property will be divided. This is not necessarily true. Property that is held jointly with right of survivorship or has a designated beneficiary will not be affected by the will at all.
To be effective a will must be properly executed. Witnesses to the will may be called to testify as to the circumstances of the signing. Even a properly executed will may omit important provisions governing the powers of the executor, how the estate is distributed and who pays taxes.
Careful, professional planning is especially important when there is a high risk of conflict over the distribution of your estate. Anticipate conflicts in the following situations:
- Second marriage / blended families
- Disinheriting heirs or giving preferential treatment to some
- Making major changes from your previous plan
- Crisis planning with a quick restructuring of assets
- Diminished capacity due to illness or injury
- Existing family conflict
- Step or foster family that you’d like to treat as your own
- Unmarried partners
When it comes to estate plans a “one size fits all” simply will not do. Talk to your attorney to be sure your plan fits you. The cost of a custom plan will depend on many factors. It is a small price to pay for peace of mind.