“Helping families plan for long life, obtain quality care and navigate the long term care maze”

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The Cost of a Simple Will

We are often asked, "How much do you charge for a simple Will?" Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. Asking a lawyer this question is somewhat like calling a medical doctor and asking, "Doc, how much will you charge for treating the pain I have in my abdominal area?" Obviously, the physician would have to examine the patient, obtain a history, run some tests, etc., before he could give a reasonable reply. The same applies to attorneys.

As a lawyer and a professional, I do not sell products. I provide services. These services include counseling and the preparation of legal documents. Counseling is not just about the law; it also is about numerous other matters, some of which may be more important to the client and their family than the legal questions.

A "simple Will" may be exactly what you need. However, it may be exactly what you do not need. A "simple Will" with the provisions requested by a client sometimes produces very poor results. You cannot know what kind of Will is appropriate for you without receiving advice from an attorney who has taken the time to become acquainted with your desires, the assets that will be distributed by your Will, the facts about your beneficiaries, the desirability of tax planning and a host of other factors.

Example: You ask for a simple Will leaving your estate to your spouse, or equally to your children if your spouse dies before you. A good plan? So it would seem.

But what if your spouse is mentally or physically unable to manage his or her affairs at the time of your death? What if the spouse is in the early stages (or late stages) of Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's or alcoholism, has incurred serious liabilities, or is in a nursing home? What if your spouse is a spendthrift or is likely to remarry and leave a substantial part, if not all, of your assets to a new spouse?

What if one of your children is mentally challenged, intellectually disabled, a user of illegal drugs, physically disabled or is too young or immature to benefit from your hard work and savings? What if one of your children has a serious illness, or marries someone you dislike? What if one of your children dies before you do? What if one of your children has lawsuits pending, large outstanding debts, tax liens or a failing business? Or what if you or your spouse has children from a prior marriage and you want to be certain that specific property is inherited by specific children?

What if you have, now or in the future, physical or mental problems, dementia, long term chronic illness, a substantial increase or decrease in assets, income or expenses? What if, what if.....

If we prepared a Will for you without taking into consideration these and many other matters, it would be a disservice to you and your loved ones. You have spent a lifetime saving and acquiring your assets. When you die, 100 percent of your assets will pass to others; some may pass to the government in the form of taxes; therefore, you need to adequately and intelligently plan. You only have one legacy to pass on.

What Does It Cost To Have A "Simple Will?"

  • It may cost in assets not going where you ultimately intended.
  • It may cost in the assets not benefiting the beneficiary.
  • It may cost extra administrative expenses.
  • It may cost more in taxes. Estate and inheritance taxes must be considered.
  • It may cost a disabled beneficiary from receiving public benefits.
  • It may destroy the family relationship between beneficiaries.

Please also consider that assets titled jointly or held in retirement accounts with beneficiaries will not be distributed under your Will. Your Will has no control over life insurance payable to a named beneficiary. For these and many other reasons, you should not be concerned with the "cost" of having a Will prepared. You should be concerned with doing the best possible planning for yourself and your loved ones. A qualified, caring lawyer who takes the time to talk with you and gives you advice about your legal concerns, including your Will, will save you and your family much more than the fees for her services.

What Should You Expect From Your Lawyer?

  • Someone who is courteous and has a courteous staff;
  • Someone who gets to know you, your family, your desires, your concerns, your assets and your potential problems;
  • Someone who does not rush through your planning;
  • Someone who regularly continues her education by attending seminars and learns from others;
  • Someone who has experience in helping others with their legal planning;
  • Someone who wants to help you develop the best plans for yourself during your lifetime and your beneficiaries after your death;
  • Someone who has dealt with the problems caused by poor planning;
  • Someone who is well paid for the services she renders.

Before I draft a Will for you, I need to know all of your desires, your beneficiaries, your contingent beneficiaries, your assets, how your assets are owned, and many other facts that may relate to helping you and your loved ones.

How much do we charge for a "simple Will?" A reasonable fee based on the services needed. Usually when the client fully understands the planning and legal tools utilized, he or she finds that they may need more than a simple Will. After we have met and I have had the opportunity to consider your specific situation and needs, I will provide a fee quotation.

The Law Office of Leslie Wizelman is dedicated to providing quality legal services to each of our clients on an individual basis. We welcome the opportunity to be of service to you.