3. How much does a simple Will cost?
In my experience, there is no such thing as a “simple Will”, although there are certainly situations that are more straightforward than others or need little tax planning. And, unless the Client already has recent properly prepared documents for basic lifetime-care issues, such as a Durable General Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive, I ordinarily will not draw a Will alone, because I think it would be irresponsible.
I usually charge a fixed fee for estate planning so that Clients know ahead of time what they will have to pay, and feel comfortable asking all of their questions and deciding upon changes without worrying about “running the meter”. The fee includes consultations, advice, working with the Client’s other advisors upon request, documentation, preparation and execution, and later questions and explanations. There is also a reimbursement charge for actual out-of-pocket expenses, such as lengthy long-distance calls, special delivery services, filing fees, and modest outsourced costs of changing real-estate titles. Later updates, briefings for relatives, appointees or other interested parties, as well as representing the probate estate or trusts, are generally billed on an hourly basis.
My standard practice is to have an initial meeting with the prospective Client, for which I charge a meeting fee, in order to gather relevant information and provide preliminary recommendations. At the end of the meeting, having a reasonably good idea of the work involved, I set my proposed fee, confirmed afterwards in an Engagement Letter. If we decide to work together, the meeting fee will be credited against the final fee balance.