What Does a Simple Will Cost?

By Jennifer Kiesewetter, J.D.

What Does a Simple Will Cost?

By Jennifer Kiesewetter, J.D.

A simple will is a last will and testament that leaves your assets to your spouse or your children equally. If you want to leave different percentages of your estate to your immediate family or other relatives, such as aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews, then you are no longer referring to a simple will.

Man using laptop and reading paperwork

Simple wills distribute your property, name someone to oversee your estate, name a guardian for your children, and appoint someone to manage your children's finances. In your will, you can also address how you'd like your remains handled and any other family or religious preferences.

For most people, a simple will accomplishes their estate planning goals. They are easier, and more cost-effective, to create. Further, by having a simple will, you know your loved ones are protected if you pass away.

Simple Wills Basics

A simple will is a single legal document applying only to you. It names and describes your beneficiaries, such as your spouse, children, or any charities to which you'd like to donate, and how you want your assets to be distributed to them. For example, you may state that you want to distribute your assets to your spouse, and if he or she should pass away, then equally between your children. It also names and identifies your executor, the person responsible for carrying out your wishes and managing your estate, and specifies any directions for the care of your minor children.

If you're under the age of 50 and your estate isn't subject to estate taxes, then a simple will can likely achieve your estate planning goals. If your estate is more complex, then a simple will isn't for you. For example, if you want to include a trust in your estate plan for your children and/or grandchildren or to set up a special needs trust for a disabled family member, you may want to consider other estate planning options.

Hiring a Lawyer

You can pay a lawyer to draft your simple will. Many lawyers charge flat rates to draft wills, such as $600 or $1,500. Others may charge by the hour. A lawyer can charge anywhere from $150 to $1,000 per hour, depending on where you live and the lawyer's expertise.

If your situation is particularly complex or if you have questions about your circumstances, hiring a lawyer may be the way to go. Although you may pay more, you'll get answers to your questions. Further, a lawyer can draft additional language in your simple will relative to your personal circumstances.

Online Legal Assistance and Forms

If your situation is straightforward without any complexities, you can research online software programs for creating simple wills. When you create a simple will through an online program, the software walks you through the necessary steps to complete the process. The cost of these programs ranges from $20 to $100.

Another option is to buy paper forms from office supply stores, ranging from $5 to $20, that you can fill out yourself. If you choose to use a will form, you should confirm that it complies with your state's laws.

Still, many people hire an online service provider to assist in creating a simple will. By receiving some additional guidance from a legal service provider or estate planning attorney, you can rest assured that your family cared for and your will meets all your state's requirements.

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.