Dear Ms. Allison: How much is the minimum cost of writing and recording a will? Name Withheld in Oklahoma
No one can tell you the cost of doing your Will until he or she knows how complicated your estate is.
If someone tells you a price before discussing your particulars, you can pretty well tell that person doesn’t know much about Wills or the laws that govern them. Also remember, using a Will means that the people who inherit must go through Probate Court to obtain their inheritance. That process is a minimum of several thousand dollars and usually takes 9 months or longer. If you have a simple and small situation, you could consider making your property payable to your heirs in another manner instead of a Will.
A good estate planning attorney can and should explain your options based on your actual situation rather than a guesstimate. If money is a serious issue, you could ask those that will inherit from you to pay for the process of estate planning.
Another option is that you can always do a handwritten Will. It must be all in your handwriting, be dated, revoke previous Wills and clearly be a Will that is signed and dated. You do not need witnesses. But this is risky.
CAUTION: 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 a handwritten Will.
To your success, Gale Allison
*Originally published in the Gale Allison, PLLC website Asked & Answered blog based on questions from the public. Gale Allison handles estate matters only: Probate, Estate or Trust Administration; Estate Litigation; Estate Planning; Business Succession Planning; and Estate-related Tax Issues at Schaffer Herring, PLLC, in Tulsa, OK. She also mediates Business, Divorce, Estate and Elder Care disputes nationally, exclusively through Dispute Resolution Consultants (DRC-OK).