Many people are afraid of drawing up a will and doing other estate planning because of the perceived high cost. The truth is, drawing up a will is a small cost compared to the cost of probate of an estate if you die without a will and own almost any property.
For a simple “Mom and Pop” will, where spouses leave everything to each other, if surviving, or on the death of the survivor to their adult children, the cost is not likely to be more than $500 per person. Even if trust provisions are added to the will for possible minor beneficiaries, the cost is still likely around $750 per person.
If you die without a will and own real estate or other assets of significant value which have not been transferred by beneficiary designations, a probate or probate-substitute like procedure will be required at some point to transfer those assets.
There are endless possible complications for how the assets will need to be transferred if you die without a will (intestate). Even in the simplest situation, however, you are looking at a minimum of $1,000 to $1,500 in fees and expenses. In general, for more complicated estates, the fees and expenses will likely exceed $2,500. If all potential legal heirs do not agree on how to settle the estate, an application to determine heirship and for administration of the estate may be necessary, with a bottom line cost of about $6,500 or more. These are just general, ballpark figures and could run much higher, depending on the circumstances.
Obviously, drawing up a will is the smart way to handle your estate. Failing to do so will only end up costing many times as much as the cost of a will, and your heirs will have to deal with the payment either out of their pockets, or maybe ultimately from the estate, if there is enough money there.
If you would like to talk about drawing up a will and other estate planning documents, please call Adair M. Buckner for a free initial consultation*
*(The free consultation does not cover actual review of documents or giving legal advice on a specific situation.)