How Much Does It Cost to Write a Will?

By Ronna L. DeLoe, Esq.

How Much Does It Cost to Write a Will?

By Ronna L. DeLoe, Esq.

There are several ways to write a will, including writing it yourself, having a lawyer prepare it for you, or using an online legal company to prepare it. Many people believe that the process of writing a will is expensive, but that is not always true. While fees can vary greatly, many of them are reasonable, and some come with the peace of mind that an attorney has either reviewed or prepared the document for you.

Person signing last will and testament

Here are the options for preparing your will.

Preparing Your Own Will

As might be expected, the least expensive way to prepare your will is to do it yourself. If you choose to prepare your own will, you can follow a form or online examples for little or no cost. Be aware that many states don't recognize holographic, or handwritten, wills.

Even though this is the most inexpensive way to proceed, it's not recommended that you do so, as failure to have an attorney review your will can cause a court to invalidate it if there are any errors. Should this happen, the court will distribute your assets according to your state's laws. You may not have intended this outcome, but state laws may require your property to go to relatives you never intended.

Using a Do-It-Yourself Will Creation Kit

Several online companies have do-it-yourself will creation kits. You can shop around for the best deal, but be sure to read the fine print. While some online companies say they'll give you free forms, you may have to sign up for membership, which you probably don't want. This unforeseen extra cost could be as much as paying a company to prepare it for you.

Some companies charge from $13 to $34 for will kits, while others charge around $50, but don't be surprised if you have to buy something else with it.

Using an Online Company for Will Preparation

A better way to prepare your will is to pay an online company to handle it, which often costs just slightly more than a do-it-yourself will kit and has the added benefit of input from attorneys. In addition to a basic will, some companies offer add-ons, such as the option to create a living will or prepare a power of attorney. If you only need a basic will, you can usually hire a company for less than $100—a price that comes with peace of mind.

Hiring an Attorney

Hiring an attorney to prepare your will makes the most sense. If you have a simple estate—that is, one with only a small amount of property and accounts—an attorney can usually prepare your will for $200 to $600, depending on where you live. Costs in major cities are often higher than in rural areas. There are some storefront legal services that charge less than $200 for will preparation, but you may not get the attention you want from an attorney or a paralegal may end up being the one to draft your forms.

When you hire a private attorney, you get legal advice for estate planning and have peace of mind that the will is prepared correctly. If you have a lot of assets, you may need to have a will, a living trust, a power of attorney, and a medical power of attorney, which can cost $5,000 to $10,000. Preparation of the will alone can cost $4,000 to $5,000. You may want to get a flat fee from your attorney, otherwise you could be billed at hourly rates that range from $100 an hour in rural areas to over $600 in major cities.

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.