How much should a couple pay for Wills, etc

How much should a married couple pay for two Wills, two Powers of Attorney, and two Healthcare Powers of Attorney? Between us we only have our two adult children, no other heirs. Ideas?

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I’m an attorney, but don’t work in the area of estate planning. I have absolutely no idea how to pick an attorney for this or how much it should cost. Some people might tell you to just interview a few attorneys, but you won’t be able to tell much about the quality of their work from that interaction. You should still do that so that you will be comfortable working with the attorney, but don’t expect to be able to pick the best one for the job based on that.

I can tell you that cost has little relation to quality in my area of practice. I presume it’s the same in estate planning.

$2K to $5K… with a trust… less w/o a trust.

Ouch. For that much I would expect a great deal of customization and support. I thought it would be less, like $1000.

Around here (greater Charleston, SC), I recall ads for something like $295 for a simple will, Healthcare POA and living will package. I assume that’s a loss leader to get people in the door.

We also have tons of ads on TV from ambulance chasers. I have a hard time believing there is that much personal injury business.

I think that answer is dependent on how complicated your estate is …

Ours is simple

This is NOT advise, but seems like 2 simple Wills, Medical and Durable POAs should do the trick, but you will have to go through probate. That shouldn’t be more than $1k to setup. I have not use Will Maker but maybe this will suffice ?

It’s possible to write your own simple will, but it may be worthwhile to have a lawyer review it or do some serious legal learning.

One thing I ran into with beneficiaries and wills – the idea of “per stirpes”, which I had never heard of.
My dad made his will and listed beneficiaries decades ago, leaving assets equally to his 4 children. Years later, there were grandchildren.

Years later, he was not able to manage his affairs, so I did it, as POA. I gave copies of the will and other account beneficiary info to my siblings. One sibling asked if she were to pass away, would her kids get her share? I didn’t know so I inquired. The answer was “no” because the will/beneficiary listings were not listed as “per stirpes” which would allow her share to go to her kids. Instead, the assets would divide between the remaining kids. She said this was unfair and we had to change it, but I said that we legally can’t change dad’s will, etc, because his cognition was not good at all. Luckily, my sister did not pass away, so it was not an issue when my father finally passed.
But another question – if some kids have grandkids and others don’t, then only the kids with grandkids get this consideration? Maybe a single sibling has a beloved spouse who should get their portion like grandkids would get if their parent passed? Yeah, it can get interesting!!

But my point is that there are some things that we don’t think of when making even a simple will or designating beneficiaries, and this is the one I ran into. My dad’s will, initially, was simple. Until it wasn’t. But it couldn’t be changed.

I don’t know the answer – get legal advice? read some more technical info? update/revise the will when grandchildren appear? Can you put in a statement of how the division of assets work if an heir/beneficiary passes – who is secondary?
Also – I don’t know if this applies in all states – your state may vary!

I don’t want to do a DIY will. The stakes are too high. There are too many mistakes a non-lawyer can make. Thanks for the suggestion, I did use the willmaker software packages 35 years ago when I didn’t have much in the way of assets.

I just don’t want to OVERPAY for a professional set of documents.

Per Stirpes - Per Capita ! Always a bone of contention.

Draft a copy of what you want to happen, then try to think of any scenarios that might change what your wishes would be, and add some language to deal with those.

Also look at some off the shelf ones for your state. Do both of these for each of the do uments you want, and realize that your wife may prefer some differences in hers.

Use those as talking points when you do speak with an attorney.

@NancyM provided some good advise that once you finalize your plan, have a family meeting and discuss everything with your heirs. That way everyone knows how it is going to play out well before something happens and what their role will be. You should also give each child a copy…and the executor.

I had a family trust set up which was a bit complicated involving property being put into the trust with a lessor. I also had a will and medical directive done. Two meetings with the attorney. The first is where I laid out excatly what I needed and a discussion as to how that could be done. The second meeting was the signing and printing and delivery of the documents and going over them.

As I remember it was about $2,000. I thought that this was a good price and not too different or maybe a bit less than what I expected. By the way, I also had to pay a General Excise Tax to the State (somewhat similar to a sales tax) which is levied on services in my state.

For me, part of what I paid, actually most of what I paid, involved the property which is a house and farm. Since these are part of a business and now the farm and house are in the family trust, it can be written off as a business expense (with minor exceptions of the medical directive and perhaps the will).

Don’t overlook probate! When I had a Trust created in 2010, the average cost of probate in Cal was $13,500 and took seven months. Often longer.

So while court appointed probate atty’s dissect your will, your home is empty for months, a prime target for vandals and fake renters.

My Trust will be implemented 24 hours after the DC is issued.

A good friend is a RE Broker with endless sad stories about heirs who cannot sell the inherited house for many months as it stands empty and slowly works through probate court as they have to pay atty’s to sort out the will.

Thanks Lava, how many years ago was that? It sounds more involved than our situation.

Lots of things can happen between the time a will is created and when it becomes the legal instrument to pass assets to heirs.

Things like liability awards and rapid appreciation of property value can make the value of an estate much larger than it was originally envisioned.

In those cases a will plus a trust will make the wishes of the deceased person much clearer to those left behind.

3 or 4 years ago.

Here was a Google search… " Whether you’re single or married, how sophisticated the trust needs to be, and the state you live in, you’ll probably pay an attorney between $1,500 and $2,500 to create your trust."

Considering in Cal, probate will cost +$13,000 [in 2010] and take months, this seems a good investment. [other states probably vary]

I’m in Texas can’t imagine it’s like Cali but I’ll research

Good luck with that. I tried to find probate costs today, and get nothing but endless pages of ads from atty’s.