How much does it cost to write a will?
Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to write a will?

Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to write a will?

$300 – $1,000+ flat fee (with an attorney)
$150 – $400 hourly rate (with an attorney)
$0 – $300 total cost (DIY)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$300 – $1,000+ flat fee (with an attorney)

$150 – $400 hourly rate (with an attorney)

$0 – $300 total cost (DIY)


Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Jennifer Carlson
Written by
Jennifer Carlson
Edited by
Tamatha Hazen
Fact-checked by
Kristen Cramer

Average cost to write a will

The average cost to write a will is $150 to $400 per hour or $300 to $1,000+ total with a lawyer, depending on the location and their experience level. You can create a will on your own for free or up to $300 using online templates and will-writing programs.

Average cost to write a will
Method Average total cost
With an attorney $300 – $1,000+
Holographic Free
DIY service $0 – $300

  • A will is a legally binding document that explains your burial or funeral preferences, the guardianship of children or pets, and how to distribute your assets when you pass away.

  • You must be 18 years old or older to create a will and must sign and date it in front of witnesses. Your witnesses must be adults and cannot be your heirs.

With an attorney

Most wills attorneys either charge a flat fee or an hourly rate. Flat rate fees range from $300 to $600 to create a simple will or $1,000+ for a more complex estate.

A lawyer costs $150 to $400 per hour on average. Experienced attorneys charge $300 to $400 per hour, while junior firm members charge about $150 to $250 per hour. Hourly rates are convenient for lawyers but can be stressful for clients who don't know how long it will take.

Holographic

A holographic will—a handwritten will without any witnesses—is free. You can find free templates online and fill them out, or you can create your own. This is the most affordable but also the most risky option because you’re more likely to make an error without guidance.

DIY service

An affordable alternative is a will-writing software, kit, or online service which costs $0 to $50 for a simple will or $100 to $300 for complex estates. These programs give more guidance and peace of mind than a holographic will but cost less than hiring an attorney.

Get free estimates from wills attorneys near you.

Cost factors for writing a will

The following factors affect the cost of writing a will, especially when you’re working with an attorney:

  • Location: Lawyers in urban cities typically have higher rates than in rural areas. Washington D.C. has the highest average rates for lawyers in the country.

  • Experience level: Senior members of a law firm charge more than junior members. However, less experienced attorneys might take longer because the process isn’t as intuitive yet.

  • Estate value: The more you own, the more your will could cost. If you have over $1 million or several different kinds of assets—like homes, investment accounts, or vehicles—the attorney will spend more time making sure the will covers everything.

  • Taxes: Your estate or beneficiaries could be subject to taxes if your assets are worth over a certain amount:

    • Estate taxes: Your estate will owe federal estate taxes if it’s worth more than $13.61 million for individuals or $27.22 million for couples. Assets over that are taxed at 18% to 40%. Some states also charge estate taxes.

    • Inheritance taxes: Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania tax inheritances. Spouses and some immediate relatives don’t have to pay inheritance taxes.

    • Capital gains / income taxes: Assets that generate income can trigger taxes for whoever owns it. If you’re passing on a house, your family members should either use it as a primary residence or sell it as soon as possible.

  • Pro bono: Most lawyers work on several cases for free every year. To search for pro bono representation, contact a legal aid society like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Will attorney signing papers
Will attorney signing papers

Will vs. trust

The cost to set up a trust is $1,000 to $7,000+ with an attorney. A will explains how to distribute assets after your death, while a trust is more complicated and can include power of attorney. Wills help provide guardianship for minor children, but trusts do not.

A will is subject to probate court unless your estate falls below a minimum threshold of value, which is about $50,000 in many states. If you have a large estate, you may want to create a trust, which usually includes a will.

Will vs. Trusts
Factor Wills Trusts
Cost $300 – $1,000* $1,000 – $7,000*
Best for People with dependents or specific end-of-life wishes People who want to manage assets before they die, reduce taxes, or avoid probate
Process Simple and straightforward Complex with more paperwork
Taxes Won’t protect against taxes Irrevocable trusts protect against taxes and creditors
Privacy Public probate can be contested More private and less likely to be contested

*With an attorney

How do you write a will?

An attorney or online program will help guide you through the specifics of writing a will, but most state regulations follow the same basic steps:

Get free estimates from wills attorneys near you.
  1. Decide what property, assets, money, and sentimental items to include in your will.

  2. Decide which friends, relatives, or charitable organizations will receive which assets or items.

  3. Choose an executor, a responsible adult who will carry out your wishes and report to the probate court if necessary. This could be a friend, a family member, or an attorney.

  4. Name a guardian(s) for any minor children to keep them from placement in state foster care.

  5. Sign your will in front of 2 witnesses (and a notary public in many states). A notarized, witnessed will is proof that you were the one who signed it and no one forced you to do it.

  6. Let people know about your will beforehand, especially your executor and any guardians.

  7. Keep your will in a safe, bank, or fireproof box. Upload a digital copy for extra security.

  8. Write a personal letter to include with your will if you want to express your love or appreciation to anyone in your will.

  9. Update and revise as needed.

FAQs about writing a will

Can I write a will on my own?

You can write a will on your own, either by typing or writing it out yourself or by using an online template or a will-writing program. You don’t need to hire a lawyer, but most states do require that you sign it in the presence of two witnesses and have it notarized.

However, if you opt to write your own will instead of hiring an attorney to prepare it for you, check your state's regulations to ensure your will meets all the requirements.

When should you write a will?

You should write a will if you have any property or assets that you want to pass on to a certain person(s) after you die. You can also use a will to choose a specific guardian for any children or pets you have.

Since tragedy or illness can affect anyone at any age, you don’t have to wait until you’re at an advanced age or have a lot of property to make a will.

Is it worth hiring a lawyer to make a will?

It may be worth hiring a lawyer to help you write a will if you have a complex estate, minor children, or assets worth $1 million or more. It may also be worth it if you’re concerned about making mistakes when filling out the document on your own.

Getting estimates from wills attorneys

Follow these suggestions when looking for a wills attorney near you:

  • Compare multiple estimates from reputable lawyers.

  • Read attorney reviews on Lawful and Google.

  • Verify their credentials and confirm they've passed the bar exam.

  • Choose a lawyer who makes you feel comfortable.

  • Pick a firm that’s conveniently located if possible.

  • Ask whether they charge flat or hourly rates.

Questions to ask a wills attorney

Ask these questions to make sure you choose a qualified lawyer that fits your needs:

  • How long have you been a practicing lawyer?

  • Did you pass the bar? How long ago?

  • Do you give free consultations?

  • How much experience do you have writing wills?

  • Do you charge by the hour, or do you have a flat fee for wills?

  • Would you consider doing this pro bono?

  • Will you give me an estimate in writing?