Are Legal Fees for Preparing a Will Tax-Deductible?

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

Are Legal Fees for Preparing a Will Tax-Deductible?

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

In most cases, legal fees for personal matters are not tax deductible. Prior to 2018, there was an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) exception that allowed the deduction of legal fees associated with estate planning. However, those fees are no longer deductible. IRS Publication 529 clearly states that “legal fees related to producing or collecting taxable income or getting tax advice are not deductible."

Elderly couple working with a man at a laptop

Since legal fees for preparing a will are not tax deductible, it is more important than ever to get as good of a rate as possible without compromising quality. The following are a few tips to help you strike this balance when looking for estate planning services.

Consider Multiple Attorneys

The number one way to find a good attorney at a good rate is to ask the right questions. Start by asking your friends, family, and trusted coworkers if they know any estate planning attorneys that they would recommend. Ask about their experience with that attorney. Check the attorneys' websites and make a list of a few that you would like to get more information from and reach out to them.

During your initial consultation with the attorneys you are considering, ask questions about the attorney's knowledge, training, experience and prices. Some questions you may want to ask are:

  • How many years have you been practicing law?
  • Where did you graduate law school?
  • About what percentage of your clients are estate planning clients?
  • How does the estate planning process work?
  • How will you keep me updated during the process?
  • How quickly do you generally return calls or emails?
  • What are your rates?
  • Do you offer flat rate estate planning packages?

If you like a particular attorney but their price is out of your budget, explain your situation and ask for a discount. You may or may not receive one, but it is worth a try.

Consider Using a Legal Service Provider

Historically, there were only two options for preparing a will and other estate planning documents: by using an attorney or doing it yourself. In the past few decades, a new middle ground option has emerged: legal service providers. Legal service providers prepare form documents based on your responses to questions. They are less expensive than using an attorney but produce better documents than doing it yourself.

Legal service providers are not attorneys but most use attorneys to create and update their forms. Many also offer an add-on option where you can pay a little more to be able to talk to an attorney about your estate planning documents. This is typically still much less expensive than using an estate planning attorney.

Legal service providers are typically best suited for routine estate planning for low or middle income families.If you have a nontraditional family, tax situation, or very high income, an estate planning attorney that can tackle the complex issues is usually a better choice.

The bottom line is that while you cannot deduct legal fees from your tax returns, you can take steps to keep your estate planning legal costs low.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.