How much should I spend on a Will?

We were asked the other day how much people should spend on their Estate Planning.  It was pointed out to us by a business adviser that their accountant got their Will done, including an Enduring Power of Attorney and appointment of Enduring Guardian, for $400.

It is similar to buying a car – up to a certain price, you get what you pay for.  But getting your estate planning done correctly is a little more important than buying a car – you only die once.

Most lawyers charge between $300 and $400 per hour.  A lawyer with a good understanding of investment and business structures charges no less than $400 per hour. A lawyer with any sort of tax or superannuation experience will charge significantly more.

So you need to ask yourself what exactly you are getting for $400?  In fact, you probably need to ask the same question about an Estate Planning process that costs less than $2,000.

Admittedly, not everyone needs to consider investment and business structures – but many do.  Almost all people have superannuation – and how this is handled can save (tens to hundreds of) thousands.  Many people own one or more investment properties.

Another way to answer this question is to ask what you don’t get with a simple Will at a cheap price.  What you are unlikely to get is:

  • A good understanding of your investment and business structures, and how this ties in with your longer-term wealth accumulation and succession plans – the lawyer will simply not invest the time to get an understanding of these issues;
  • How you can pass wealth on to children in a responsible way.  How confident are you that your 18 or 21 year old child is going to make sensible decisions about $500k+ of life insurance or superannuation? and
  • You will not get a complete explanation of all of your options to save tax and protect assets.

So to answer your question more directly, we would suggest that Estate Planning should cost around:

  • $600-$800 for a simple Will, and straight-forward Enduring Power of Attorney and appointment of Enduring Guardian/ Advance Care Directive.
  • $1,200 to $1,900 for a more in-depth analysis of your circumstances, including possibly incorporating a testamentary “second chance” trust for young children.
  • $2,750 – $5,000 for an Estate Plan that deals adequately with more complicated investment portfolios and business assets.
  • $6,000 – $8,000 for more sophisticated high-net-worth scenarios, including more complex business and investment affairs.

I am sure that some people will take exception to this view.  But if someone is providing this service for any lower price, you need to ask yourself:

  • Does this person actually know what they are doing?
  • If they do know what they are doing, then why are they charging below market value – or actually below their real opportunity cost – for this service?  What else is motivating them?

And what about ‘free Wills’ from the public trustee or an executor company?  A quick look at what they charge per year to administer your estate after you have died will give you the answer.  One of the well known public trustee companies that we looked up recently published a rate $19,800 to administer an estate with gross assets of around $600,000 (excluding the family home).  Or $8,800 for an estate with gross assets of $400,000.  Gross assets means before any debts.  They also generally charge a commission on the annual income, as well as fixed fees to perform various administrative tasks, such as preparing and filing tax returns. This compares to what a lawyer is likely to charge to obtain probate of an estate of this size, being around $1,000 to $2,000.

There are ways to save money on estate planning, and still end up with a good result.  The first is to invest some of your own time to get a good understanding of all the relevant issues.  The other articles on our site are a good place to start.  You should then put together a list of your assets and liabilities, and give some detailed consideration as to who you are going to give what.

If you would like to get a better idea about the issues you should be thinking about to ensure that your affairs are in order, please contact us on 1300 654 590 or by email.

Click here to find out more about how we can help you with your Estate Planning needs.

Our Great Lawyer Guarantee

We want to be part of your team over the long term. We'll achieve this by sticking closely to the following principles:

  • We'll listen carefully to understand what you want to achieve. Then we'll thoroughly explain our advice and step you through the documents. You can be sure you'll know the full consequences.
  • Our lawyers work as a team, so someone will always be available to answer your questions, or point you in the right direction. You will also benefit from a range of perspectives and experience.
  • One of our key goals is to pass on as much knowledge as we can, so you can make your own informed decisions. We want to make you truly independent.
  • We only do what we're good at. You can be confident that we know what we're doing and won't pass on the cost of our learning.
  • For advice and documents, we provide a fixed or capped quote so you don’t take price risk. If you're in a dispute, we'll map out the process and costs so you know what to expect.
  • We're not in this game for our egos. We're in it for a front row seat to witness your success.

We measure our success on how efficiently we have facilitated your objectives, enhanced your relationships, and reduced the level of stress for all involved.

If we sound like people you can work with, call us now on 1300 654 590 and speak directly with a great lawyer.

Call 1300 654 590 and speak with a lawyer today

You'll be put straight through to a great lawyer who will guide you to the right solution.

Social media and family law

Social media and family law

It may be tempting to take Kanye West as your model and use social media to both attack your ex-spouse and vent about your hurt, disappointment, and hatred for all that is happening to you during a family law dispute but be warned in Australia this type of conduct has very real implications for family law cases. 

read more