More than half of the adult population of America don’t have wills. There are a number of reasons given for this. Some feel they are too young to start thinking about their final affairs. Others believe that they just do not have enough money or possessions to make a will necessary. Many simply don’t want to think about their own mortality.
But regardless of the underlying reason, a lot more people would have wills if they thought they could afford it. After all, the idea of writing a will to allocate your sparse possessions after death becomes absurd if it means you are going to put yourself in debt.
However, every adult should have a last will and testament. The good news is that the cost of a will in the United States is not actually prohibitive – if you know where to look.
Let’s discuss why it is necessary to write a will before going into the average will cost.
Why should you write a will?
If you haven’t lost someone close to you, you probably don’t know about the kind of chaos that can ensue. No matter how much or how little a person has, the time after their death is one of extreme emotion for their loved ones. These emotions can spill over into anger and recrimination as soon as money gets involved.
Having a will telling your loved ones exactly what to do with anything you are leaving behind saves them the potential fights. You can also leave instructions for your funeral and any final arrangements you want carried out.
Again, these troubles are rarely about monetary disputes, but rather are the result of extreme emotions, disorientation, and confusion.
So how much does a will cost?
The average cost of a will written through a lawyer
If you go the traditional route of hiring a lawyer to write your will, you are not going to like the prices. A simple will for a small estate will cost about $300 for a lawyer to write up! If you have a bigger estate, that price only increases.
Of course, there are a number of factors involved. Lawyers charge different rates depending on where you are living. Experienced lawyers will also charge far more than new lawyers who do not yet have big client bases.
A will for a big estate written up by a well-respected attorney can cost you in the thousands of dollars. On average, you can expect to pay around $1,500 for these kinds of wills.
A simple estate, on the other hand, can be taken care of by an inexperienced attorney for as little as $200 if you are lucky.
None of these prices are particularly attractive, especially if you do not have much to spare. Fortunately, there are now options that are far cheaper – or even free.
The cost of an online will
A will is essentially a very simple document. Technically, you could write your wishes on a napkin and sign it in front of witnesses and that suffices. The reason we get professional assistance is to ensure we don’t miss anything and to help with the legalese. A will that you did yourself might leave loopholes and unresolved conflicts.
However, there is no real legal expertise required for the average American’s will. For this reason, online wills have become a viable and increasingly popular alternative.
An online will maker uses an algorithm to take your input and weave it into a foolproof document. You are basically using a template that asks very specific questions so as to cover everything you need it to. Many online will makers have legal experts who look over the final document for potential weak links.
With the pandemic, more people started using online will makers, as mortality became a very real possibility for people who had avoided thinking about it for so long.
Unless you have a particularly complicated estate, an online will maker should do the job perfectly well. But what do you need to know about the pricing and costs of online wills?
How much does an online will cost?
Technically, you can write an online will for free. There are a number of free will makers available from reputable sources. However, these services are generally offered by life insurance companies trying to draw you in to sell you their insurance. They can be used in only the simplest scenarios.
However, paid online wills do not cost an arm and a leg. The average cost of an online will is $50, which is already far less than the $300 you would pay an attorney. Some will makers offer the service at just $20 per document.
Alternatively, you can subscribe to one of these sites at an average cost of $33 per month, and you will have the option to write as many documents as you want. These are not limited to last will and testaments. Rather, you can write documents granting power of attorney, a living will, medical proxy, and more.
When should I use an online will maker?
You should use an online will maker to write an affordable will unless you have a complicated estate. While online will makers do offer estate planning services, big estates with intricate details are better written by an actual attorney.
But any will is better than not having a will. Online will makers get the job done and have already helped many Americans who would otherwise not have known where to begin.
There is no reason to spend hundreds of dollars to write a document that you could technically write yourself. Online will makers are affordable, with some free options, and make the process easy and accessible to all Americans. In these uncertain times, a will is a document that every adult American should have, no matter what their age or economic circumstances.