from Brett Lee Shelton, licensed Family Business Lawyer™
If you came to this page to find out what I’ll charge you for a Will or you are considering calling me (or any other attorney) to ask, “How much do you charge for a will?” stop.
It’s not the right question.
The question you need an answer to first is “What do I really need to have in place to ensure me, my family, and money are cared for the way I want?”
Far too many people make their estate planning decisions based on what it’s going to cost. Sometimes, that may be the right criteria. Most of the time it’s not.
The problem is you don’t know what you don’t know.
When you get on the internet to download a cheap will or fill out canned documents from a book or DIY kit from the office supply store, you don’t know what you are actually putting into place or setting in motion.
When tragedy strikes, it’s your family who is left holding the bag.
Failed plans, unnecessary, expensive, totally public probate, multiple probates in different states, even, loss of sovereignty, legal fees for guardianships and conservatorships, being at the mercy of the judicial system.
When you hire me, you aren’t paying for documents.
You are hiring me for my guidance throughout your lifetime and to be there for your loved ones when you can’t be.
When you hire me, you aren’t renting my time, but my brain and my heart. You are hiring an ally who will help you get your affairs in order, and keep them there across time and changes in the law, tax policies and your life.
When you call me and ask how much for a Will, I can’t give you an answer because I don’t even know if that’s what you need.
Maybe a Will would suffice for your family, but maybe it won’t. And if I tell you how much a Will costs and then you come into my office and you need so much more, you’ll be angry with me.
So I won’t answer your question. Because I don’t charge for Wills. I charge for advice, guidance, counsel and support. The Will? It’s free.
Our process begins with a Family Wealth Planning Session. Before this Session, you will receive a package of information with homework for you to complete so you can benefit from the time with me the most.
Whether I ever write a Will (or any other documents) for you or not, I want every interaction of ours to be extremely valuable to you.
To that end, I’ll review the homework you complete before we meet. And then we’ll invest our time together exploring your life, looking at what would happen to you, your children, your money, and the people you love if anything happens to you.
You will feel heard, cared about, informed, educated, and empowered to make the best decisions for the people and things that matter most in your life.
If, after we spend that time together, it turns out you need a Will (or any other type of legal planning), it will be because we came to that conclusion together.
Then, I will offer you planning packages that will cover the different options for taking care of things the way you want.
I can tell you this – most of our foundational plans range between $1,500 and $8,000. Your package will be customized to the specific needs of your family. And you will stay in control the whole time.
How do you choose a lawyer, if not based on price?
Get referrals from your friends and family. When you call the office to inquire about their services, rather than asking what they charge, ask HOW they charge and what makes their office different than others.
See who stands out in your area. Is there a lawyer who is frequently seen around your community? That lawyer means business and is putting their reputation on the line every day. Give them a try.
Search for a local provider on www.personalfamilylawyer.com or www.estateplanning.com. These two websites host some of the best planners in the world.
Get connected. When you find the right lawyer, he or she will be a member of your team for the long term, not for just this one transaction. Your lawyer should be approachable and not only want to be in a long-term relationship with you, but have systems and a team to support that.
Read this report. I’ve written a report on the common mistakes I see families make when choosing a lawyer for their loved ones. You can get it for free here. [LINK TO PAGE OFFERING YOUR REPORT] Read it.
Simply asking, “What do you charge for a Will?” does not get you what you need to know to make a smart and loving decision for your family.
A far more powerful question to begin with is “What do I need to do to make things as easy for my family as possible, if something happens to me?”
Please call me at 303-255-3588 to find out.