Wow! Isn’t that a question that everyone wants to know upfront before they do anything about their Will.
You’ve clearly passed ‘first base’ and now realise you need to make a Will or update your Will. However, before you move to the next base, you want to know how much the whole process of making a Will is going to cost. I get that.
However, may I share with you my ‘dilemma’ about that question so that you understand my position. Despite any preconceptions you may have, I really want to help you and give you legal advice about making your Will.
Last week I received the following email from a person called ‘Suzanne.’ Her email is fairly common and I get a number of similar emails from people. Here’s is the full contents of what Suzanne wrote:
I recently read one of your articles about Wills. Please can you tell me how much it costs for a Will?
How do I respond to that query when the only information Suzanne gave me is her first name? She didn’t even give me her full name or a number that I could call her!
I could have replied that a Will costs anywhere from $40.00 to $9,000. The $40,00 being the cheapest (but rife full of dangers) Will kit available to the public. The $9,000 is how much it cost a husband and wife client of mine who had extremely complex and extensive pool of assets. Where does Suzanne fit in that scale of fees when I don’t know anything about her?
This is only some of the information I need to know from Suzanne before I can advise her:
- Is she single?
- Is she married or about to get married?
- Does she have children? Are they minors or adults? If they are adults, are they married and if so, is their marriage a ‘happy one’?
- If she has children, does she want them to get everything at a set age or does she want the kids inheritance to be held in a trust?
- Does she have grandchildren? If yes, does she want to provide for them?
- Is she divorced or about to get divorced? If she is getting divorced, are there any child maintenance issues or parenting issues that need to be considered?
- Does she own a house? If so, does she own it on her own or with someone else? If she owns the house with someone else, how is it owned – jointly or as tenants in common?
- Is she part of a blended family?
- Does she have a mortgage? Does she have life insurance?
- Does she have superannuation? If so, will her superannuation fund pay directly to her superannuation beneficiaries or will it pay directly to her estate?
- Does she owe anyone any money? Or, does anyone owe her money?
- Does she want to leave any specific gifts to family/friends?
- What is the approximate value of her estate – home, life insurance, superannuation, money in the bank?
I wrote back to Suzanne and thanked her for her enquiry. I offered to phone Suzanne so that I could have a quick chat with her. I asked for her phone number and when is the most convenient time to call her.
Suzanne never replied to my email.
Had Suzanne replied to my email, I would have given her a call, asked her the pertinent questions and then been able to give her an estimate of the cost to prepare her Will. I would also have offered to meet with her in person to discuss her estate in more detail and advise her accordingly.
At the consultation, I would have explained every issue relevant to her situation and advised her whether a standard Will or a Will with a Testamentary Trust best suits her circumstances. At the end of the whole process, Suzanne would have received and signed a legally drafted Will. She would have felt satisfied that her estate will be distributed as she wants and to her particular loved ones.
But none of that will happen because I only got a single line email from Suzanne and she never replied my email. Had Suzanne telephoned me, she would also have had a chance to ask me a few questions about the process involved to get a Will.
If you are serious about getting a Will and you are ready to move to ‘second base’ call Shirley Tascone at SBT Legal. Shirley is happy to chat during business hours and at the end the conversation, you will more information than if you send an email.