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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Court case proves false economy of cheap wills

In the last 29 years, I've had a lot of conversations with a lot of people about wills. Whenever the first thing the person asks me is the price of the will, I know that person isn't likely to become my client. Not because I charge a lot of money, but because I tend not to work with people who focus on price rather than value.

I understand that everyone wants to get the most out of their money. I do, too. But it's important for consumers of legal services to understand that the price of a will should not be the determining factor in whether or not you hire someone to do your will. You get what you pay for. If you want someone with deep knowledge of the subject matter and years of experience backing him/her up, it's going to cost you more than it would to get a will done by a junior two weeks out of school. And it's going to cost more than if you do it yourself, since you have no training or experience whatsoever.

There are times when it makes sense to go cheaper. Generic prescription drugs, for example, are generally considered to be as effective as the brand name variety. There are other times when it doesn't make sense to cut corners, and getting your will made is one of those times. I'm not saying you have to spend thousands of dollars to get a will made. I just think that going for the cheapest one regardless of quality is foolish. You may never know the difference, but your kids and spouse left behind after your passing will certainly know.

Why does the price make a difference? Because the person who charges more is spending more time with you to find out about you, your family, and your finances so that he/she can spot issues. He or she is giving advice based on experience, not just general legal information. That advice is tailored to you and fits your situation. The person isn't just making a document for you; he or she is making sure that all aspects of your financial and legal arrangements will actually work together when the time comes.

I'm attaching a link - here - to a story from the British website in which Mr. Ebenezer Arebesola chose to go the cheap route and his family is paying the price. Mr. Arebesola used an unregulated will-writer who failed to tell him that he could not leave half of a jointly-owned house to his daughter. Now that Mr. Arebesola has passed away and his daughter cannot inherit the house, the will is being litigated in court.

I've always told my clients that when  you're getting a will made, the goal is not to get a piece of paper with "Will" on it. Anyone can give you that. The goal is to go through the process of planning so that the piece of paper you end up with is actually going to do what you need it to do.

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