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Old 02-01-2004, 10:58 AM
Sycorax Sycorax is offline
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Lawyer fee for a simple will?

Anyone have a ballpark figure for what a lawyer would charge for a simple will? My sister called one lawyer who told her $900 - $1,000 for two wills (one for her and one for her husband). Sis was initially shocked at this fee, but has no idea if it is reasonable or not. They don't have complicated finances - these would be simple wills designating beneficiaries for insurance, pension, heir house, and personal items. (She's lives in the Washington, D. C. metro area.)
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Old 02-01-2004, 11:32 AM
Otto Otto is offline
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$450-$550 per will sounds like a reasonable price. Figure three hours per will minimum and you're looking at $150-$185 per hour which is not a bad rate at all for legal advice anywhere in the United States.
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Old 02-01-2004, 09:08 PM
Quint Essence Quint Essence is offline
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Lawyers and their greed is one of the biggest problems this country faces. As far as I am concerned, I have more respect for common criminals. At least they are more upfront about what they are.
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Old 02-02-2004, 07:35 AM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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We got a deal on ours (combination divorce and two separate wills) and I think we paid about $100. We just checked with that same lawyer to do my MIL's, and he said he'd drive to her house, twice, and do the simple will for $250.
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Old 02-02-2004, 08:41 AM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Depends on your perspective.

From one view, $900-1G isn't all that much money. Especially if it gives you some peace of mind. Or if it forestalls any future unpleasantness. And if viewed in the context of an estate of any size.
In terms of personal service, it is hard to get any significant legal work for much less than a grand. Hell - you'd have to pay me close to a grand to convince me to cross the street.
How many satisfied clients have you heard bragging over how cheap their lawyer was?
Further, the grand is a one-time payment. How much time and effort are they going to spend trying to get the price down how much.

OTOH, if the estate is simple, and essentially going to be divided eaually per intestate succession, then you could probably get away with DIY or no will.
Probate CAN be a hassle with a large or complicated estate, or contentious heirs. But if everything goes to a surviving spouse, and then equally to the kids, and property is not held in funky ways, it is no big deal.
And I don't see how a competent lawyer could spend 3 hours writing a simple will. At least not if he intends to stay in business.

My wife and I wrote our own wills. Of course, we are both lawyers. Maybe we screwed them up but, what the hell! What do we care? We'll be dead when any problems arise!
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Old 02-02-2004, 08:54 AM
Otto Otto is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale
And I don't see how a competent lawyer could spend 3 hours writing a simple will. At least not if he intends to stay in business.
One hour of initial consultation, one hour to write the document and one hour to consult with the client after it's written. Still seems reasonable to me. Maybe, given that the wills will likely mirror each other, the lawyer could cut a bit of a deal but I wouldn't have a big problem paying the quoted amount.

They can always shop around...
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Old 02-02-2004, 09:57 AM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Well, here's another take.

Just because some legal services are compensated at hourly rates of $300 and up, doesn't mean ALL legal services ought to be.

A simple will, for someone who is experienced in such things, is little more than filling in the appropriate blanks on a form. No lawyer writes up every will from scratch. In fact, he would be far more likely to open himself up for liability if he did so. Wills do not require creativity. They are Certainly not beyond a reasonably competent paralegal.

Nowhere NEAR as difficult as, say, sweating pipe joints.

But, like I said, all depends on your point of view. Either the guy is charging a grand because in the past he has found suckers willing to pay him that much, or because he doesn't want to do it and is trying to dissuade potential clients.
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Old 02-02-2004, 10:10 AM
Sycorax Sycorax is offline
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Dinsdale- that's what I told my Sister -- I worked in a local government agency that had a legal office. I worked in an administrative division, and I frequently had to work on contracts. We'd draft them and then send to the legal office to review and edit. We had a whole manual of boilerplate language for contracts (depending on the service, product, etc.). Just from my dealings with these guys, I told sis she might have an initial consultation with the lawyer, providing details about her assets, but in the end, it would probably be the paralegal who would do the will. She made an appointment with the lawyer for later this week, and I told her to cancel it and shop around. Myself -- I'm going to go the do-it-yourself route.
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Old 02-02-2004, 02:50 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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I think Dinsdale just called me a sucker...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sycorax
Myself -- I'm going to go the do-it-yourself route.
Unless there's a form included with your state statute I'd suggest having a lawyer take a look at it after you write it up. Wills are finicky and if they're not done in accordance with the statutes then they're invalid and your wishes won't be carried out.

Good on you, by the way, and your sister and her husband for doing this. Everyone with any assets of significance ought to have at least a basic will.
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Old 02-02-2004, 07:24 PM
badmana badmana is offline
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How about those DIY wills sold in bookstores?

Does anyone have any experience with those? I've seen a few in Chapters (AKA Indigo) for Canadian Wills and it looks legit. I believe it contains all the paperwork and all you'd need to do is get it finalized with a lawyer.

Are those types of "wills" sold in the US?
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  #11  
Old 02-03-2004, 08:22 AM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto
I think Dinsdale just called me a sucker...
Oops! Sorry about that bro. I guess I should have just referenced "what the market will bear..." Tho such commercial considerations would certainly be inappropriate for such an honorable profession!

Which reminds me.
What is the difference between a catfish and a lawyer?
One is a slimy, scum-sucking bottom-dweller - and the other is a fish!

On a different, but related matter, in Illinois, at least, living will language is statutory. Easily DIY. Don't turn into a vegetable without one.
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  #12  
Old 02-03-2004, 11:42 AM
Otto Otto is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badmana
How about those DIY wills sold in bookstores?

Does anyone have any experience with those? I've seen a few in Chapters (AKA Indigo) for Canadian Wills and it looks legit. I believe it contains all the paperwork and all you'd need to do is get it finalized with a lawyer.

Are those types of "wills" sold in the US?
They are. One size fits all will kits are generally IMHO a bad idea. Each state has its own probate requirements and conditions and unless you're using a state-specific kit that's completely updated to reflect any changes in the probate law then you're pretty much asking for trouble. Use them as a starting point to get you thinking about the decisions you'd need to make and then either check your state's statutes for a statutory form with instructions or see a lawyer licensed in the state with experience in estate planning and probate.
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