For many of us, the thought of handing over hundreds of dollars to make a will is enough to put you off making one anytime soon, if at all! Why do they cost that much? What is the need to have one anyway, my family is straightforward and everyone gets along great? They will be able to sort it all out at the relevant time anyway, won’t they?
What are you getting for your money?
Aside from the significant problems that can arise from not having a will at all, or from drafting your own will, let’s be honest and talk about the real value of having your will professionally drafted by a lawyer…..in case it isn’t immediately obvious!
Often a person has never considered, or discussed with their immediate family, who they think should organise their affairs after they die, how their estate would be divided if their spouse or children passed away before they did, who would look after their children where both parents have passed away (if applicable), or where a person is survived by the non participating biological parent who has had little to no contact with the child/ren. Do you want to be buried or cremated? Do you want to be an organ donor? Your lawyer can guide you through the decisions that will need to be made and your options in making those decisions ahead of time.
We never know with certainty when we will pass or in what circumstances, so why leave your family in the dark about your wishes? Spare them the added burden of making the decisions themselves or trying to agree on what you would have wanted, in the absence of any guidance by you.
To be honest, the time it takes to draft a will does vary depending on the client’s situation and needs. But at the very least it will likely include the following-
- one meeting to gather information and talk about your wishes;
- time spent actually drafting the document and gathering any additional information to confirm issues raised in the initial meeting;
- a second meeting to confirm all your instructions with you and execute the will;
- the additional (free) service of holding your original document in safe custody forevermore; and
- fielding calls in the future from you, or your named or potential beneficiaries /executors, in relation to your will and your estate (both before and after you pass away).
All of this would generally equate to no less than three hours in total, and very often more. For a qualified solicitor you would expect to pay in the range of $275 to $475 per hour, so a will that costs you $600.00 or less is a total bargain!
Everyone can access general information on the internet about various topics, wills and estate rules and advice included. You might even find precedent wills available for download. The thing is this advice and these precedents are generic. Your circumstances are not. They are specific to you.
When your wills and estates lawyer asks you seemingly basic (and sometimes very personal) questions about your family and medical history, your assets, your debts, superannuation, and the like they are not simply recording your answers for future reference. There is a sophisticated process of multiple filters being applied immediately to your information, including-
- at least 5 years of law school education; and
- 12 months or more of practical legal training; and
- Hundreds of hours of additional learned expertise from reading recent cases, legislation changes and professional experience from acting for thousands of client’s before you.
This is the most valuable service your lawyer can provide. Their ability to bring together all the current laws and practices, the historical background, the types of cases that are being accepted and not accepted by the courts and apply them to your information, and then explain it all to you in a 30 to 60 minute window of time.
This then allows for your individual situation to be explored, advice to be given to you regarding your options and decisions made by you about how best to structure your will to achieve your stated intentions, with minimal risk of issues arising in the future.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
Whatever the fee you pay now to prepare your will and/or estate plan, in all likelihood, will be but a small fraction of the total amount your estate will have to spend on sorting your assets out after the fact, without this basic document in place.
Make a will with Turner Freeman Lawyers
To discuss your estate planning needs or to arrange your appointment to make your will, please do not hesitate to contact Turner Freeman Lawyers Wills and Estates Team on 13 43 63. We specialise in estate planning, estate administration and estate litigation.