The cost of making a will with a Solicitor

  Lots of clients and potential clients will talk to me about their Wills for some time, and then say ‘OK, can you just tell me how much my Will is going to cost?  I know you can’t charge the same for everyone, but can you give me some indication about the things that are going to increase or decrease your fee.’ I totally get it. My clients want certainty.Which is why I would always suggest a consultation to determine their individual needs and circumstances before quoting. But people sometimes want a bit of a steer before we meet – and if they do, then this is what I tell them. There are two main categories of thing that will affect the price of your Will.  They are:  
  1. the things that affect how much any given business will charge you to write your Will; and 2. the things that will make your individual Will either more or less expensive (i.e. your own circumstances and requirements). THIS article is all about the second category. Or, in other words, once you’ve chosen your individual or business to work with you to write your Will, what factors individual to YOU are likely going to increase or decrease costs? There is a whole other article about why some businesses charge wildly different prices for essentially the same Will. You can find that here.But right now, we are going to talk about:

    The factors individual to you that will increase or decrease the costs of your Will

    What factors will make a will more or less expensive in the UK 1. Your wealth and the complexity of your assets In terms of Will drafting, there is a world of difference between client 1 who owns a modest property used as her main residence and has a little money set aside in the bank; and client 2, a landlord with multiple rental properties, held within a limited company being used for multi-generational tax planning, along with numerous investments, a side-hussle partnership business, and a holiday home in Cornwall. The Wills for these two clients might in fact end up looking quite similar.  I often prepare what would look on the surface to be a simple Will for my high net-worth client 2.   But any adviser worth their salt is not just going to draft a Will; there will be a whole lot of advice going on before that Will is ever drawn up, too. That advice should include, e.g. an assessment of the inheritance tax position of the individual, looking at succession planning and any powers needed for running a business after death; a review of shareholder or partnership agreements, and so on.  So, client 2’s Will, or more accurately the advice surrounding it, will be a lot more time-consuming and involved than client 1’s.  This will generally make the high net-worth individual’s Will more expensive. It is also true to say that the higher the net worth of an individual, the greater the risk to the adviser in terms of potential negligence claims.  If the adviser gets it wrong (and hopefully they won’t) the cash claim will grow exponentially bigger the larger the estate of the deceased client.  In some cases, the potential value of a claim from a high-net worth client will exceed the indemnity insurance limit of the adviser and an additional insurance premium will need to be paid for to insure for this size of estate.  What does this all mean?  You guessed it, the higher the net worth of the client, the more expensive the Will is likely to be. 2. Your family Families come in all shapes and sizes these days.  Generally speaking, the more complex your family arrangements, the more advice you are going to need when considering your Will, and the more expensive your Will is going to be. Consider a blended family with two sets of children from previous marriages, where the new couple have decided not to marry having both gone through horrible divorces.  One child, in his 20s, has a gambling addiction and relies on state benefits. This situation will require the following advice ‘on top’ of the normal Will instructions: –   How to protect each ‘set’ of children and ensure that assets from their biological parent are protected in the event their parent dies first.  This often involves the use of trusts. –   Inheritance tax advice because the new couple are not married and therefore do not benefit from the spouse exemption. –   How to protect the inheritance for the child with a gambling addiction (probably including advice on how a trust might be used to protect him). –   Considerations about guardianship arrangements for each set of minor children. If you have a family where you have fallen out with a close family member, such as a child, and do not want them to benefit from your estate, this will also require additional advice to ensure that, as far as possible, your Will cannot be challenged.  Again, this will likely increase costs. 3. Business assets If you own or run a business, or have agricultural property, there are particular inheritance tax exemptions which might apply to your estate on death, and any good adviser should fully consider these, possibly in conjunction with your accountant, before drafting your Will.  There are certain things that can be done, in some situations, to maximise the generous tax exemptions available. If you run a family business or farm, there will also be more general succession planning issues to take care of.  Which child/ren will take over the business?  How will the other children feel?  Do you need to compensate them?  Could there be claims against the estate if you leave the family business to one child at the expense of another? For these reasons, owning a family business or farm will likely see the cost of your Will go up. 4. Foreign assets You guessed it, having a holiday home or offshore investment portfolio means your estate is more complex, more advice is required, and your Will is going to cost more.  Each jurisdiction has its own set of succession laws, and your adviser will need to consider these, possibly alongside a legal expert trained in the inheritance laws of that particular country, in order to ensure you are getting the best advice. 5. Your health In order to draft a Will, your adviser will need to ensure you have what is called ‘testamentary capacity’.  This simply means you understand what a Will is, you can bring to mind the people you ought to be considering as beneficiaries (close family members, partners etc), and you know the size and extent of your estate (you know your worth / assets).  If you have an illness or condition, or if you are taking medication, that is likely to affect your testamentary capacity, then your adviser will need to pay special attention to this, make their own careful assessments, and may need to take an opinion on your capacity from someone medically trained.  This will all increase costs. So, whilst I understand that it can be frustrating to learn that your Will is going to be more expensive because of your situation, my experience is that it is always worth paying for the advice you need.  You do not want to cheap out on a Will and then end up in a situation where your children lose their inheritance, or your family is faced with a large and unnecessary tax bill, or even an unwanted claim from a disgruntled relative, at a time of stress and grief.  Any additional fees you pay for a properly considered and prepared Will, will be wildly insignificant in comparison to the costs, tax and stress potentially saved. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. If you want to chat to us about pricing, or anything else, just call – 01622 934887!