How much does a will cost?

10/13/2009 by Michele R.J. Allinotte

One of the most common questions asked in phone calls to law offices is how much the average will costs. This is the #1 question I field and also one of the most challenging to answer. A Will is not (or at least should not be!) a commodity, and the process of creating an estate plan should not be akin to purchasing a television off a store shelf.

There are very inexpensive Will-drafting software packages for sale in office supply and box stores (about $30-50), there are relatively inexpensive online Will drafting services (about $100), there are are other fresh out-of-law-school newbies and many general practice lawyers who will be happy to fill in some form documents and churn out a run-of-the-mill, bare bones, basic will for around anywhere from $200 to $500 for a couple.

The trouble with all of these is that if you have any special circumstances in your life whatsoever or need any professional guidance, these will not serve your interests. There are other legal instruments that are often more critically important to people than Wills, but if all they think they need is a simple will and they don’t get proper guidance, they never learn that. Furthermore, if you go through the trouble and don’t properly execute the legal instruments, they aren’t worth the paper on which you print them. With these options there is also little to no legal counseling to help you make the best decisions to accomplish your individual goals and objectives and spare you and your loved ones the headaches and hassles of a failed plan.

An estate plan needs to be a living breathing thing that gets reevaluated periodically and regularly as your life’s circumstances change to ensure that it is still accomplishing what you want, protecting what’s most important to you, and doesn’t become a worthless pile of paper. I practice estate planning very differently from most of the other attorneys around here. I enjoy developing meaningful, lifetime relationships with my clients and provide them an exceptional level of personalized service and professional counseling, all in a very relaxed and friendly way.

I charge neither the least nor the most expensive rates for my estate planning legal services. The temptation for all of us is strong to try to save money by shopping around for the best deal. It is of critical importance, however, to be able to compare apples to apples. I only charge within a set range of flat rate fees from which my clients select once we’ve looked at what they have, what they want to accomplish, and what is most important to them. I can accept credit card payments, set up payment plans, and help make it as affordable as possible. What I do not want to be is, as someone recently put it, the Walmart of Wills. “I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed.” (John Cusack/Say Anything, anyone? Clearly I’m dating myself here.) But seriously, I have no desire to mass-produce shoddy documents at discounted prices without caring about whether that is really what my clients need.

I do want to provide a much higher level of personal service in an ongoing working relationship as my clients’ trusted family advisor. I’ve developed a great professional network of financial advisors and insurance professionals to be able to work as a team to ensure that my clients are taken care of in the best way possible. I have relationships with local real estate agents, bankers, mortgage professionals, and lawyers who practice in other areas of the law, including family and criminal law. It is my pleasure to refer my clients to those other professionals whom I personally know, trust, and to whom I have and would turn again for my family’s needs.

If this sounds like the sort of legal service you want, please call Allinotte Law Office at (613) 933-7720.

Adapted from an article by Danielle G. Van Ess, see the original at


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