When a person asks me how much it costs to hire a probate or estate planning attorney, I always have to smile to myself. Sure, I understand that the cost of an attorney is something that intimidates many people, and with good reason. A lawyer can be and oftentimes is expensive for any budget. Couple that with the need to hire a lawyer under less-than-ideal circumstances and do you have a potentially troublesome situation when it comes to the household budget and the emotions surrounding the entire process.

Of all the topics in the law, I think that estate planning and probate are among the more unpleasant to have to think about. This should be for obvious reasons. Both of these subjects are related to end-of-life scenarios. Estate planning causes you to contemplate the end of your life even if you don’t believe you were anywhere close to that stage. Of course, the reality of the situation is that none of us know the exact moment when you’re going to pass. Unfortunately, those situations could become more relevant for you than you know it and sooner than you think.

You may become involved in a probate case if the spouse, the parent, or loved one passes away and you are named as the executor of their state in the persons will. Or, you may be named as the administrator of the estate as a close relative. A probate case is filed after a person passes away. If you were the person who passes the way then obviously you would not be here till we all have suffered the consequences or bear the fruits of you are good planning or lack of planning, whatever the case may be. Rather, it would be your family who would be in a position to be able to sit in one of those positions.

Since we are talking about how much it costs to hire A probate or estate planning attorney in Texas, I’m going to write some of today’s blog posts from the perspective of a person such as yourself who may be interested in hiring a lawyer. By the same token, I think that proper estate planning and end-of-life planning, in general, is so crucial both to your life and to your legacy that they cannot be emphasized enough. For that reason, I would like to write a portion of today’s blog post also from the perspective of a person who is considering end-of-life scenarios and whether to draft a will in the first place.

Why should you draft a wheel?

When it comes to being motivated to do anything, I always think that having a big enough “why” is as important as any other factor. Your “why” is as important as any other factor in your life. Consider your motivation toward doing something. Odds are good that you’re we’re doing something has to be significant especially when the result is not something all that fun or pleasurable. Nobody would argue that drafting the will is anything close to fun. However, the result is extremely rewarding. To that point, I have never had someone come up to me after having a well-drafted and tell me years later that they regretted doing so. I am confident that you would fall into the same category.

Many people worry when it comes to the drafting of a will that to do so is complicated or overly time-consuming. I think that in our culture we have assumed that only some kinds of people can draft a will. The stereotype is that only wealthy or well-to-do people can have wills drafted. The reality of the situation is that any person over the age of 18 should have a will. No matter how much money you make or how few assets you own, if any, you need a will. remember that you’re not doing this for yourself but rather for your family in your legacy. 

The beauty of having a wheel drafted is that your motivation for having a will may be completely different than my motivation. For example, you may be more focused on providing a strong foundation to your extended family. Maybe you have nephews and nieces in another state or another country that you would like to be able to provide for. In a situation like that leaving the bulk of your estate to your extended family can help them to build a solid foundation for their futures. The same could be said if you have a church or other not-for-profit group that could stand to benefit from the property. Your will displays your intentions. 

On the other hand, I may be focused on ensuring that my immediate family attends to a division in my state and exactly the way that I want. For example, if you own a lot of personal property or memorabilia then you may want a certain child to have an item versus another person rather than to put that pressure on your children to divide the property up fairly and equitably you can save them the trouble By creating a will. Doing so puts you and your family in a position where at the end of your life your family can attend to what matters most at your passing rather than concerning themselves with finances and your estate.

We have all seen those movies where a well-to-do individual passes away adds an old age. That older person usually has some assortment of the following in their family: a younger wife who is usually a remarriage, bratty children, stepchildren, extended family coming out of the woodwork in a well-meaning and well-intentioned relative or close family friend who ends up receiving the bulk of their estate. A lawyer is usually left to read the will or even play a video of a prerecorded message from the deceased person. After that, pandemonium ensues and the well-intentioned family friend or a family member has to deal with the onslaught of anger from relatives and family members who believed that the bulk of this estate should belong to them.

To avoid a situation like this is not difficult. First, you should draft your will now rather than wait two. It could be that you wait too long, and you do not have a chance to go over the wheel with your family. That is the most important part of the equation after getting a Will drafted in the first place. Once you draft your will you should talk to your family about what is inside your will and what it means to them. It makes no sense to keep your Will a secret and then surprise them with its contents after your passing. Instead, take the time to share the contents of your will with your family before your passing. It is better to clear the air at that point rather than contend with an angry family in the last moments of your life. Or worse, leave your spouse or other close family members to deal with the drama after you pass away.

These are many of the good reasons why you should have a will. The last motivating factor that I think will hit home for many readers of this blog is that if you have a will then you have ultimate authority over how your estate is divided at the time of your passing. The alternative to your being able to have to say so over how your will is set up and how your estate is divided is to not have a will. Many people pass away without a will in Texas. However, what these people end up doing is to allow the state of Texas and a probate court judge to divide up their estate.

Well, it isn’t as if a public court judge will follow no authority but their common sense when dividing up your estate after you pass away, it is still better for you to hold authority in this area than a stranger. What the probate court judge will do is follow the Texas probate code when it comes to a division of your property. This means that your spouse and children will end up receiving the lion’s share of your estate. For many people this is OK. However, if you have plans to allow not-for-profit groups or even nonfamily members to inherit a chunk severe state then having a will is pretty much the only way this could be done.

In a situation where you pass away without a will, it isn’t as if a coworker, employee, pastor, priest, or any other person not in your immediate family can petition the court to receive a portion of your estate. At that point, a family court judge or probate judge will be bound by the probate laws of Texas when it comes to dividing up your estate. He or she would follow the Probate Code which tells him or her to send property to your spouse and then to your children. Nowhere in that mix do they talk about your parish, church, or other group receiving any property. They will be left in the cold period; however, you can avoid a situation like this if you simply take the time to draft a will. Doing so will benefit your community and your family.

When you draft a will, you do not increase the likelihood that you will pass away soon

I write the next section of this blog post not as a joke or anything close to it. Rather, I have had people come to me and express some concern that their feeling is once they start drafting a will that the likelihood of their passing away will increase. While we all know that we are not going to make it out of this life alive and that at some point we will all pass away, these folks believe that there is something about drafting a whale that increases the likelihood of your passing immediately.

On the one hand, there isn’t much I can say in response to this. Of course, putting some words on a piece of paper and having two people witness you are doing so is not going to increase the likelihood of your passing away. However, I understand that the people who feel this way do so not because they believe that they are going to pass away soon rationally but rather on an emotional level. We measure risk in our hearts rather than with our heads. It is very difficult to convince people who have this kind of concern that they are not being rational in that their position doesn’t make sense. 

However, I mentioned this concern that some people have to help you understand that no matter what concern you may have regarding drafting a well there are people that have concerns of all sorts. As an attorney, I can guarantee you that I have talked to people who have more irrational fear-based concerns and you do draft a will. So, if you are reading this blog post because you are concerned about the costs of hiring a probate attorney then you are in good company. It is reasonable to want to know how much you could stand to spend when it comes to a probate or estate planning lawyer. With that said, what you are doing now is very smart.

The best thing you can do to counteract fears and concerns is to collect information. Once you collect information and begin to learn more about his subject you can determine whether the concerns you have are rationally based or irrationally based. For example, if you have concerns that hiring a probate or state planning attorney is going to cost a certain sum of money then it would logically make sense for you to try to find out if those concerns are accurate or not. If you find out that hiring a probate attorney will cost only 25 or 35% of what you had believed the attorney to cost, then you will either find yourself with fewer concerns or possibly still feeling as concerned as you did previously. If you are as concerned as you were previously then you may be in a position where your fears and concerns are irrational and more based on a motion than anything else. There is nothing wrong with this, but you need to do something else to help put yourself on better footing and in a better state of mind to move forward.

The costs associated with hiring a probate or estate planning attorney

To close out today’s blog post I would like to spend some time with you discussing what kind of costs you may expect to encounter when it comes to hiring an estate planning or probate attorney in Texas. Certainly, just as in any area of the law, you can find an attorney to suit you and your budget. Depending on where in town you look, the experience level of the attorney in the sort of clientele that the attorney caters to you can find an attorney at all different sorts of budgets. 

To say that an attorney will cost a certain sum of money to you in a blog post would be a mistake on my part. What I can tell you is that probate attorneys will end up costing you somewhere between three and $6000 depending on the length of the probate matter in your role within the case. If you need assistance as the executor of an estate or if you are a relative who is trying to contest a will that is already going through probate and the costs associated with your case may differ. For that reason, it is difficult to give you a specific amount of money that you may expect to spend on a case. You should consult with an experienced probate attorney to help you learn more about what you would be getting into should you become involved in a probate case. That way you can get more specific information and apply it to give you a better idea of what you can expect to have to pay in a case like yours.

On the other hand, if you are doing some end-of-life planning which involves drafting a will or trust then the costs of hiring an attorney could be substantially less. Where example, if you want to hire our law office to draft a will for you then this may only involve a planning session, the time spent drafting the will, and time spent reviewing the will with you. This could be a very modest sum of money and well worth your effort in time as well as money. Remember the reasons why people draft wills can be extremely unique. It is your legacy that you are protecting in doing so. 

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed estate planning and probate law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas Estate planning and probate law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a probate case.