Through the first three years of this tumultuous decade, we have unfortunately been faced with the reality of life and its impermanence. We often face these situations at the most unexpected times and without warning. Has this worried you?
Well, you’re not alone. There has been a sharp increase in the number of wills being written within Australia over the last 3 years as we increasingly acknowledge our mortality. As a result, you may have been left wondering “how much does it cost to make a will”?
However, the price of wills in Australia is not consistent in all cases because there is a range of factors that come into play. The price of a will is heavily influenced by its complexity, and whether it was produced by a lawyer, a public trustee, or through a DIY will kit. The cost of a will also differs between states, as there is no single price across the nation.
Nevertheless, wills are vitally important in ensuring your money and assets are distributed in the most preferable way, making sure you can support your family and any charities that are close to your heart. Regardless of the way you would like your assets to be distributed in the event of your death, a will can offer you great peace of mind that everything is in order should the worst ever happen.
Factors Affecting The Cost of A Will
The cost for a will to be produced in Australia is dependent on several different factors, ranging from the type of will that you require, the location it is produced in, the way it is made, and the size of the estate.
Type of Will
The type of will you are seeking simply refers to its complexity. Naturally, the more complex that a will is to produce, the greater the price will be.
A simple will is one that offers gifts to beneficiaries in a very straightforward manner, and this mainly sees fixed sums be gifted to individual people. This type of will offers a less convoluted process that gives greater clarity to your loved ones, making for a less stressful and confusing process in the event of your death. They are also suitable for those individuals who do not have a particularly large estate or complex family network with various people to consider in distributing their assets. Additionally, when you’re looking for cheap wills, these solutions with less complex formats make for a sound investment as they require less time and resources to produce.
Conversely, the cost of will preparation for complex wills tends to be much higher as a result of individuals dividing their assets in a less straightforward manner. This complexity may arise as a result of a testamentary trust being created that begins upon the event of their death, complex gifting methods being used to ensure their beneficiaries face lesser tax penalties, or the individual offering their assets or body parts to charities under very specific instructions.
While you may be wondering “how much does a will cost in Australia”, you must consider that this price differs between states. The cost of making a will in Victoria may not be the same as in New South Wales or Queensland, so it’s important to check your local pricing structure.
Lawyer vs DIY will kit
Will prices also vary depending on the individual that produces them. Naturally, the cost of making a will with a lawyer is more expensive than using a DIY will kit, as these professionals ensure no mistakes are made that would render the will invalid. A solicitor’s fees for a will also tend to be higher as you will experience a more holistic process of estate planning, as the solicitor will discuss your will in conjunction with a range of other factors such as your superannuation and the appointment of a power of attorney. However, a DIY will kit may be preferable for those individuals looking to reduce the cost of making a will, or if they already have extensive legal knowledge.
Size of The Estate
The size of the estate in question also has a notable impact on the cost of will preparation. Predictably, those wills that address the division of a larger estate will command a higher cost as they need a greater level of planning and simply require the solicitor to offer you more of their time. However, smaller estates with fewer assets typically require less planning and have less complexity, and this will reduce the cost of will preparation.
Average Cost of a Will in Australia
Once you have recognised that the cost of a will is dependent on a variety of different factors, you can determine the type of will preparation that best suits your needs and your budget.
Price of Wills Produced By Solicitors
When you enlist the services of a solicitor in Australia, you can expect the price of a will to range between $300 and $500 per hour. However, this fee can be subject to great variation depending on the complexity of the will. For more complex wills that require greater time and planning, fees may occasionally rise to $3000 for the most intricate estate planning.
Price of Wills Produced By Public Trustees
When you instead opt for the services of a public trustee for your will preparation, variation in price occurs on a state-by-state basis. In New South Wales, the cost of will preparation starts at $440 for a basic will, and for a more customsied will, you can expect to pay $550. However, this service is free for individuals over retirement age within New South Wales.
However, the cost of making a will in Queensland is entirely covered by the public trustee, meaning no costs will be encountered when this method of will preparation is used. However, Victoria is again subject to variation in the fees charged by a public trustee, with a standard $330 fee applying for consultative will writing.
The fees for a public trustee are determined by the relevant government department within each state, and as a result, it’s worth consulting your state government to find out the fee you will face.
Price of Wills Produced With a DIY Will Kit
However, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly that will cut the cost of will preparation, a DIY will kit is your best option. These kits typically cost less than $100 and can be completed at your own convenience, and this ensures you have great clarity to the contents of your will. While these kits do drastically reduce the cost of a will, it is still recommended that you seek the services of a qualified solicitor to ensure that your will is valid.
Save Money On Your Will Preparation
Now that you have a clearer understanding of the cost of wills in Australia, you may be wondering how you can find the cheapest solution and cut your costs. Fortunately, there are a number of different ways to reduce the costs you encounter.
Using A DIY Will Kit
For a cost-effective method of will preparation, a DIY will kit is a fantastic option. As previously mentioned, these kits come at a fraction of the cost of a solicitor or even a public trustee, and they offer you unrivalled clarity. However, costly mistakes can be made in this process, and it is not recommended that a DIY will kit is used for a complex will. Even the most skilled legal professionals can benefit from a second viewing from a wills and estate solicitor, and the team at McDonnell Schroder is always happy to offer their services.
Hiring a Fixed-Fee Lawyer
Alternatively, it may be advisable to find a fixed-fee lawyer to reduce the price of a will. The fee structure of solicitors’ services can have a major impact on the costs that you face, as many providers offer a flat fee for an initial hour consultation, but then charge a significantly higher rate for further time required or subsequent consultations. To ensure a consistent cost of will preparation, opt for a fixed-fee lawyer who can offer advice on your will structure and inform you of any tax penalties that can be avoided.
Opt For a Simple Will
One of the easiest ways to reduce the cost of making a will with a lawyer is opting for a simple will. By reducing the complexity of your will’s structure and minimising the time required by the lawyer to prepare the document, you’ll undoubtedly benefit from a lower fee.
Consider Online Will Services
Online will services also make for an effective way to reduce the price of a will. In a similar vein to a DIY will kit, there are a number of online will services that allow you to produce a will at your own convenience and for a fraction of the cost of a lawyer. This can offer you great convenience and the process can be completed in a matter of minutes. However, this process is not advisable for all individuals, particularly those with the necessity of a complex will.
Thinking of Preparing A Will?
If you’re looking to prepare a will, the team at McDonnell Schroder are always happy to offer their expertise and knowledge to give you the most comprehensive solution that meets your unique needs. While you may wish to reduce the cost of a will by opting for other means of will preparation, our team are always available should you require any assistance with any part of the process.