Do you have forms I can just print out to do my own will without having to contact an attorney. The attorney that did my Mother-In-Laws will has charged US over 22,500.00 plus 27,278.00 for inheritance tax and serveral thousands of Dollar for extra legal fees that were supposed to be included in the Estate. She died in 2004 and we spent $xx
We have sample will forms on this website, but they are really intended to help guide you on working with a lawyer. The pre-fab, do it yourself will kits and forms, even the popular ones are really lacking. You cannot so readily substitute for decades of knowledge. You may have hit a bad apple. You should consult with a good accountant, banker or general practice lawyer to get names of estate specialists. Once you get a specialist make sure you're clear on the fees. Also, the $22,500 sounds like it was for probate of the will, not writing the will. Different things. For the cost of a will should be far far less. The cost of probate depends on what was done. The fees may have been way too high, or may have quite fair, cannot tell without lots of detail that would be beyond this format. If you want to keep the costs of a future probate down, go to a skilled estate planner. Be wary of someone pushing living trusts or other "magic" techniques. Also, you said you paid $27,278 in inheritance tax. That is a tax cost that may not have been unreasonable, may have been what was owed, and certainly didn't enrich the lawyer. There is planning that can be done to minimize state inheritance tax, but a do it yourself will kit is NOT the way. If you needed brain surgery would you get a video and try it yourself? The real answer is get a good lawyer who can really help you. I know this is not what you want to hear, but a home baked will just isn't going to do the job. Spend the time and shop CAREFULLY for a quality estate planner.
As to the issue of thousands of dollars of additional charges, protect yourself next time with a clearly written retainer agreement that sets forth what you will be billed and what will be done for it. You should be aware, however, that many of the better quality probate attorneys bill hourly for probate work, not fixed fees or percentages. This can be to your advantage if you and other family members handle a lot of the leg work and administrative work.
If you want some background on the reduction of probate costs see Shenkman The Complete Probate Guide, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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