Nearly every lawyer at our Everett, WA (Snohomish County) office drafts wills and other estate planning documents, either as a focus or sub-practice area. Typically our fees are lower than other local competitors, and our attorneys often enjoy more impressive legal backgrounds as well.
Wills remain the most popular category of estate planning instrument, especially in Washington, where the probate process is relatively simple and inexpensive. Notably, a will cannot provide some of the tax advantages of more complex estate planning instruments, such as an irrevocable trust. But most people’s estates, which are small or midsize in value, do not benefit much if at all from complex tax planning when weighed against the accompanying legal and administrative fees. That makes a will the right choice for most clients with small and midsize estates.
A will is also a smart choice for large estates, though the document typically plays a less important role in those cases. For clients with complex estate planning, a will serves as a catchall or safety net for assets that might have been overlooked or left out of trusts, IRAs, or other similar instruments. A will can also provide valuable instructions regarding non-property issues, such as care of minor children and treatment of the decedent’s remains.
If you are considering a will, we encourage you to contact us toll free at 866-631-0028. We are located in Everett’s city center, just a short walk from the Snohomish County Superior Court complex.
Frequently Asked Questions
What topics does a will usually address? The average will addresses a myriad of subjects, but chief among them tends to be property distribution, payment of expenses and taxes, and care of minor children. Other issues include appointment of a personal representative, permission to probate the estate without bond and without court intervention (a cost-saving measure), instructions to distribute smaller property items according to an ongoing ‘bedside list’, a bequest of the unlisted ‘residue’ of the estate, burial instructions, and more.
How much does a will cost? The cost can vary widely depending on how nuanced the client wants the document to be. A simple will might only require an hour of attorney time, including the initial client meeting. In those instances, the total fee is often a few hundred dollars.
Yet other clients want a highly detailed, individually crafted document, or they ask several hours-worth of estate planning questions. Due to the increased number attorney attorneys spent on the project, those cases can result in significantly higher legal fees. We try to advise clients of the escalating costs in these situations. We want satisfied clients, not unhappily surprised ones.
Do you charge flat fees, or just hourly rates? We do sometimes perform flat-fee estate planning, including will-drafting. However flat fees generally do NOT result in cost-savings to clients. For flat-fee projects, attorneys at most firms, including ours, charge more than the estimated hourly cost for the project. In essence, flat-fee clients pay a slight premium, but they bear no risk of cost overruns. Most estate planning clients choose hourly pricing.
What happens if I die without a will? If you die without a will, your property passes to your relatives through ‘intestate succession’. ‘Intestate’ means without a will, whereas ‘testate’ means with a will. The statute on intestate succession is RCW 11.04.015, and it states exactly who receives what shares of your property.
Some people choose not to draft a will because they do not mind intestate succession. However even those in that situation might want to reconsider their position. A will offers many potential benefits beyond control over asset distribution, such as decreased probate expenses through non-intervention powers, the ability to appoint a chosen personal representative, and the ability to designate someone as the preferred custodian of minor children.