What Should A Will Cost In Australia?
It’s an excellent question.
And the answer depends on the type of Will you buy.
Yes, there is more than one type of Will. And that’s the real story here.
You have two options - and they couldn't be more different.
For simplicity, let’s call them BASIC Wills & SMART Wills.
Most people rely on cheap, basic Wills.
A few clever or well-advised Aussies go to the trouble to rely on really smart Wills.
Let's look at BASIC Wills first.
The Cost Of A Basic Will
There are three BASIC Will options.
They are all very similar in what they do and don't do.
They are easy to spot as they are all around 2 – 6 pages in length.
Option 1: Freebies
Will templates can be found online that are free - $0 per person.
Option 2: Will kits
Other online or Post Office Will kits cost from $20 up to $200 per person.
Option 3: Solicitors
The cost of a basic Will from a solicitor start at about $500 per person.*
*Minus options for testamentary trust protections and other important stuff.
These Wills are cheap....for a reason (see 'Cons' below).
Easy to arrange
Most can be purchased online as a PDF ready to print out.
BASIC Wills have many serious problems you REALLY need to know about.
The list below are all HUGE OMISSIONS.
A modern Will in 2019 should be providing all of these benefits and protections.
But like anything in life, you only get what you pay for.
No Inheritance Protection
Basic 2-6 page Wills do not provide beneficiaries with the option to inherit via a testamentary trust. This rules out any long-term protection of inherited wealth from common events that you, your spouse, your children or even your grandchildren will likely face at some point such as a divorce, a relationship breakdown, bankruptcy, financial problems, business failure, addictions, mental health issues etc...the list goes on.
No Tax Advantages
Basic 2-6 page Wills do not provide any opportunities to minimise the income and capital gains tax obligations on inherited wealth. Once again these valuable tax minimisation opportunities are only available to beneficiaries who inherit via a testamentary trust. Over time, not having these tax minimisation opportunities can literally mean hundreds of thousands of dollars down the drain.
No Crisis Protection Measures
Basic 2-6 page Wills do not include any provisions to protect family members during a crisis. Wills in 2019 should include crisis provisions that aim to help shield the inherited assets of family members who go through some kind of personal or financial crisis, in particular when those asses are under threat from third parties or Family Court dramas.
Basic 2-6 page Wills are very thin on guidance for executors, beneficiaries & Will owners. This is a major problem and can have lasting consequences for your loved ones. It also can make life a complicated, and expensive nightmare for your executor.
Basic 2-6 page Wills provide very little or no flexibility in terms of how an inheritance is received, managed or maximised long term. The very purpose of a modern Will in 2019 should be to help executors to distribute, and beneficiaries to manage your family wealth in the most tax-efficient and protected way possible. If the options and planning are not in your Will, the protections and options are lost to your beneficiaries forever.
No Estate Dispute Avoidance
Basic 2-6 page Wills do not attempt to minimise the chances of estate disputes. Modern Wills should anticipate the various common causes of estate disputes and try to assist your executor in avoiding them. Estate disputes are paid for by the estate, not the disputing parties. The cost of an estate dispute is estimated to be around $100,000 per day in Court!
Inefficient Estate Distribution
Basic 2-6 page Wills do not aid in the efficient distribution of an estate. Once again, modern Wills should be drafted with this very purpose in mind.
Now, let's move on to what SMART Wills cost.
The Cost Of A Smart Will
For a smart Will, you have three options at three different costs.
Estate Planning Lawyers
Will Wizard (us😊)
The first two involve meeting with lawyers, the third (Will Wizard) can be completed online in a manner of minutes.
1. Estate Planning Lawyers
Costs: approx. $3,000 per couple
In terms of benefits, protections and customisation, you cannot go past seeking the advice of an experienced estate planning lawyer.
Their Wills are the proverbial ‘bee’s knees’.
We are not referring to a general lawyer however.
Estate Planning is difficult to do well and requires serious expertise.
There are a dozen different legal regimes and laws that can impact on an estate.
Not to mention all the possible or probable future scenarios to plan for like divorce and financial problems that a beneficiary will likely face.
You need a lawyer that specialises in the drafting of proper estate planning Wills.
Especially if you have a blended family, a child with a disability, own assets overseas, have complex business or trust interests or other complexities.
Estate Planning Wills provide the option to inherit via beneficiary controlled testamentary trusts and include all the other modern legal bells and whistles that protect loved ones, reduce tax and keep wealth in the family long term.
IMPORTANT: If you rely on a Will that does not include these risk preventative measures and protections, they are lost to a beneficiary forever.
Proper estate planning Wills are outstanding, and we recommend everyone should rely on these kinds of Wills. That's why at Will Wizard we've modeled our Wills on these sophisticated, risk preventative Wills that protect and maximise inheritances.
However, they are a considerable investment, and they do take at least two in person meetings to arrange. If you are time or cash poor, then these fantastic Wills may not be for you just yet.
2. Other Lawyers
Costs: approx. $1,500 per couple
OK, we now know that relying on a specialist lawyer is the best way to go.
Lawyers that don't specialise in estate planning can also draft a competent Will.
However, if you are going to the trouble of paying legal fees, it makes sense to select a lawyer who really knows what they are doing.
How can you tell if a lawyer knows what they are doing?
First ask them:
Do you offer a range of legal services?
If they don't specialise in estate planning it's probably some cause for concern because estate planning well is very difficult to do well, let alone when you split your time and expertise across multiple legal services.
Then ask them:
How many pages are your Wills usually?
If they say a number less than say 8-10 pages you can 100% sure it is inadequate by modern Australian legal standards.
Quality estate planning Wills are generally a minimum of 20-30 pages long…often much longer.
They need to be long, detailed documents in order to provide the appropriate directions, guidance, flexibility and testamentary trust options to your executors and beneficiaries.
Once again, if these options are not in the Will, the benefits and protections are lost to a beneficiary forever.
Relying on an lawyer that has extensive experience in drafting modern testamentary trust Wills is a fantastic option. But make sure they are experienced. Ask the questions mentioned above.
Testamentary trust Wills drafted by a lawyer are a considerable investment and do take at least two in person meetings to arrange.
3. Will Wizard
We created Will Wizard because too many Aussies are dying without a Will, or relying on basic Wills simply because they are cheap and easy to arrange online.
It’s hard for busy parents to find the time to meet with lawyers, and sometimes harder to find the money.
Will Wizard® is a user-friendly online solution that delivers smart, high-end Wills at a one-off cost every Australian family can afford, combining the important testamentary trust benefits and protections of modern estate planning Wills with the convenience of online Wills.
Will Wizard is Australia's first online Will that helps protect inheritances long term.
Our Wills also provide opportunities to minimises tax on inherited assets, help protects family members during a crisis, help avoid estate disputes, and we are the first online Will that provides detailed guidance for Will owners, executors and beneficiaries.
These benefits and protections are usually reserved for Wills that cost thousands.
Will Wizard has solved the two major problems stopping regular Aussies from having really smart Wills – time and money.
The beautiful Will Wizard portfolio includes a host of important documents, including:
1. Inheritance Protection Wills
2. Plain language Wills Summary
3. Signing Instructions
4. Step by Step Guide for Will Owners
5. Guide for Executors
6. Guide for Beneficiaries
7. Guide to Powers of Attorney
8. Guide to Enduring Guardianship
9. Assets & Beneficiary Loans Record
10. Social Media Data Record
11. Family Heirlooms Record
12. Pet Guardian Nomination Record
No meetings are required, there are no hidden legal fees, and we provide free changes and free delivery.
Our fun interactive online system only takes 10 minutes to complete, with no financial details or experience needed. We guide you every step of the way.
If you have certain complexities such as you have a blended family, own assets overseas, have complex business interests, or have a child with a disability, our advice would be to seek the services of an experienced estate planning solicitor.
However, if you are waiting till you have the money, or the time, to seek this kind of professional advice, it would best to rely on Will Wizard in the meantime.
This way your loved ones have the asset protection and tax minimisation advantages of proper estate planning Wills if something was to happen before you can get around to seeking the services of an estate planning solicitor.
There is too much at stake to rely on a basic Will.