Asked & Answered: Cost of a Will

Dear Ms. Allison: What is the minimum cost of writing and recording a Will? PS in Oklahoma City

Dear PS:

No one can tell you the cost to write a Will until she or he knows how complicated your estate matter is. Anyone who tells you you are getting a Will for $X before they speak to you about your estate and plans for it, is setting you and your heirs up for a very costly situation later.

Just remember that an estate plan using a Will means that the people who would inherit must go through probate court to obtain their inheritance. That process is a minimum of several thousand dollars and a quick one usually takes 9 months or longer. If your heirs disagree about anything, the cost to straighten it out are high in both money and relationship.

If you have a simple and small estate situation, you could consider making your property payable to your heirs in another manner. You should ask your estate planning lawyer if your estate is indeed “simple” or “small” under the laws of Oklahoma and follow her advice about using these other ways of transfer.

It is better to pay for a lawyer’s advice than to complicate your estate by titling assets incorrectly or in ways that contradict your Will, deeds, designations or other estate plan documents. Doing your own thing may save you money now, but it can cost you/your heirs dearly in resolving the disputes that generally arise from what you created. Then you / they may wind up in a lawsuit (estate litigation). Sadly, it usually happens after you have died and are no longer able to clarify what you actually intended, thus, people’s relationships have been devastated.

If money is a serious issue, you could ask those that would inherit from you to pay for the process of estate planning, or you can always do a handwritten Will.

In Oklahoma, a handwritten (holographic) Will must be all in your own handwriting, revoke previous Wills, and clearly be signed and dated. You do not need witnesses. However, leaving your assets that way is likely to entail an even more complicated probate. Handwritten Wills often wind up being challenged in court, so if you do that, at very least, pay for a lawyer to look over it to be sure it meets all the state requirements for handwritten Wills.

To your success, Gale Allison

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