When one thinks of writing a will, the first thing one wonders are the costs of a will. In New York, the average cost of a will is $1200. This includes consultation with an attorney, estate planning, a healthcare proxy, and a springing power of attorney.
Do I need a will in the first place?
In addition to the costs of a will, one also asks, do I need a will? Some people are discouraged to write a will because of the costs of a will. However, if you are above 18 years old, have property, and have a positive net worth, you likely need a will.
If you are young, broke, and single, you probably don’t need a will yet. For example, Linda, who is 24 years old, single, no kids, renting an apartment, with a lot of student debt, probably doesn’t need a will. There is an exception, however. Even if someone is broke, if he has a cause of action for personal injury or any other claim against another person, he might receive a big sum of money and would probably prefer a will so he can decide how to distribute his assets if he wins the case and gets awarded a monetary judgment or receives something in settlement.
Generally, a will is advisable for any person above 18 years of age with property or with the likelihood of receiving property through litigation under a cause of action.
Does having a will outweigh the costs associated in executing it?
After checking the costs of a will and whether one needs a will, one also wonders whether having a will outweighs its costs.
A will is a legal document, directing the disposition of a person’s (testator’s) assets upon his death. If a person dies without a will, he dies intestate, and his assets are distributed in accordance with state laws. In New York, Estates, Powers, and Trusts Law § 4-1.1 provides who will receive the estate if one dies without a will. It’s usually the nearest living relative, such as the spouse and children, or in their absence, the parents, then siblings. If you would like to give your assets to someone else aside from those enumerated in EPTL § 4-1.1, such as a friend, a charity, or a parent or sibling (when you have a spouse and children), a will should be executed.
Estate planning, healthcare proxy, and springing power of attorney
In addition to knowing the costs of a will, it’s also important to ask your lawyer whether the cost of the will includes estate planning, a healthcare proxy, and a springing power of attorney.
Prior to drafting a will, a lawyer will guide you through a will preparation process. This includes listing and gathering documents related to your assets, debts, digital assets, and family relationships. Learn more about will preparation here. This will preparation is part of an estate planning process that allows you to review your estate to see whether changes or conversions need to be made, such as from probate to non-probate assets, given your family relationships. Estate planning can help one manage and dispose of assets in the most cost-efficient way with the least amount of costs and taxes.
A healthcare proxy, on the other hand, is a document previously executed by a patient, appointing an agent to legally make healthcare decisions for the patient in case of the patient’s incapacity. A springing power of attorney is a power of attorney designed to take effect at a future time when the principal becomes incapacitated. While the healthcare proxy is limited to medical decisions, a springing power of attorney can include decisions relating to financial management, among others.
The healthcare proxy and springing power of attorney are similar in purpose and can grant an agent a lot of power especially when the principal becomes temporarily or permanently incapacitated. For this reason, these documents have to be specific in purpose and timing and should always provide safeguards to prevent abuse. A good lawyer can draft these legal documents to minimize the possibilities of abuse by using appropriate safeguard mechanisms. These documents should be included in the average cost of a will in New York.
If you would like to plan your estate, or are in need of a will, we can review and evaluate your assets and recommend an estate plan that includes a mix of trusts and a will for just $1200. This includes an estate plan evaluation, drafting and execution of the will in accordance with state formalities, the preparation of other relevant documents to make a self-proving will, the drafting of a healthcare proxy and springing power of attorney, the preparation of the trust instrument, and transfer of initial properties to the trust.
If you would like to know more about the average cost of a will and trust in New York, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. You can call us at at 718-509-9774 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.