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Subtitle: How to Avoid Making a $400 Will into a Court Case!
Early in my practice, I saw a Will prepared by a husband and wife for the husband, as he was very ill. It was one of those "internet based" Wills. It was drafted poorly and signed improperly. The Will is considered a separate instrument from the self-proving affidavit. Unlike today's Wills--which allow the testator and witnesses to sign only once--the prior Wills required two signatures for a self-proved Will. The testator and witnesses only signed the self-proving affidavit. In addition to this problem, the self-proving affidavit's language was butchered.
Oh, we cannot leave out the fact that the marriage was common law, and surviving spouse had a stepchild!
Result: lawsuit! Over $20,000 was spent to defend the Will and get it admitted to probate.
What was the real problem? The refusal or, perhaps, fear of going to see an attorney to draft an estate plan. Many clients just need a "simple Will," a durable power of attorney, and a medical power of attorney with directive to physicians (a "living Will"). These documents are not complicated, but the client gets the opportunity to ask questions and gain some knowledge and assurance that he has an adequate and effective estate plan.
Believe me, do not let your Google search make you think that you can practice law!