What does it take to draft a Will?

I am often asked to quote the cost of preparation of a Will. I am happy to fix my fees but I always seem to have to play a game of “limbo”…..how low can you go…….

A few days ago I “quoted” $550 for two wills for an elderly couple. I have not heard from them since.

Here’s what I have to do for that $550:

  • Take instructions. This is the easy part and to save some time I send a form for the clients to complete just to give me a general picture of their circumstances and what they want to do.
  • Read the instructions to determine the best format for the will. Identify and advise on any potential complexities, such as blended families, superannuation and insurance nominations, complex estate distributions, potential claims against the estate, gifts of trust property, businesses forming part of the estate, etc.
  • Advice the clients and take further instructions.
  • Draft the wills. Double and triple manual checks to ensure accuracy.
  • Meet with the clients (separately). Verify their identity. Satisfy myself as to their capacity to make a will and give general advice on safe keeping, change of circumstances, etc.
  • Copy and bind the wills and send them to the client.
  • Make a detailed file note of my meeting with the clients and close the file.

It takes, very conservatively and super efficiently, about 3 hours. I don’t like talking about hourly fees but most service trades do have one to enable them to estimate the cost of providing services. At the high end, a senior lawyer can charge $500 an hour (some charge more) and at the lower end junior lawyers may charge $250 an hour.

So to put it perspective, the $550 I was prepared to accept as a fixed fee was quite a steal bearing in mind the production cost for a will.

When you have a will drafted by a lawyer, you are paying for his or her knowledge and skill. When you have a will drafted by a senior lawyer you are also paying for his or her experience. You are paying for the advice, the attention to detail and assurance and peace of mind that your will is valid and that your estate will be properly distributed.

Call me or visit my website at www.jessylegal.com.au for more information on preparing your will.