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Keionna136

Can I charge people to write their wills?

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I have been researching will construction and state laws concerning validity of wills and I am interested in helping others construct their wills. I understand I can not give legal advice on what to do with their will or who they should include in the will but I would like to charge a construction fee of around $40. I plan on construction very detailed questionaires and using the answers given to construct the will.

 

I haven't found any information on the internet stating that it is illegal to charge people to create their wills and I figure if there are a bunch of random websites online charging $40-$100 for a basic will that is instantly printable, why shouldn't I be able to do the same?

 

Of course I plan to create "Statements of Understanding" that will be signed by the individual saying that they understand the law does not require them to use my services and that they understand that I am not an attorney. I will also include that the will adheres to the current state law and the validity may change over the years as the laws changes.

 

Finally, I was thinking of getting my Notary Seal and was wondering if I would be able to notarize the wills upon completion following all notarizing laws, while also reminding the customer that I am not an attorney.

 

Everyone please give your best advice. I've read a bunch of topics and the responses and I ask that you please keep all negative remarks to yourself if it isn't called for. Thank you in advance.

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I plan on construction very detailed questionaires and using the answers given to construct the will.

 

It depends on the law for the jurisdiction in which you would do this, and you did not specify where that is. In pretty much every U.S. state, however, what you propose would very likely violate the law against the unauthorized practice of law. Asking the client questions an determining from that what provisions to include in the will, deciding exactly how the will should be drafted to implement those provisions, and certifying to the client that the will “adheres to the current state law” is the rendering of legal advice, which you cannot do without a license to practice law in that jurisdiction.

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I think you'd be safe with a typist-like preparation fee, but a "construction fee" would be problematic because unless THEY are the ones deciding on precisely what is used as material, you're entering practicing law without a license territory.

 

"I plan on construction very detailed questionaires and using the answers given to construct the will."

This seems a bad idea.

For the kind of money you're referring to, it simply isn't worth the hassle because even aside from the unlicensed practice of law angle, you are talking about a HUGE liability risk insofar as it concerns these people and heirs suing you for faulty "construction".  The "Statement[] of Understanding" will be all but worthless in the scenario I'm contemplating.

 

"I will also include that the will adheres to the current state law and the validity may change over the years as the laws changes."

That sort of statement cuts both ways -- and the potentially harsher one against you -- in terms of the scenario I'm contemplating.

Whether you may be the "constructor" of a will and also notarize the maker's signature is a matter of state law.

I don't give my worst advice (at least not with intent), so the plea for best is unecessary.

 

"... I ask that you please keep all negative remarks to yourself if it isn't called for."

While you are free to ask, I trust you understand you aren't free to expect.

I can think of dozens of ways to make the kind of dough you're contemplating without all the same significant legal ramifications/hassles (recognizing that anyone can sue anyone else for anything, but it's best not to give them an all-but-engraved invitation).

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@Fallen.......... Thank you for your opinion and just like Tax_Counsel you make very valid points. In regards to the statement you made (below) what type of ideas do you suggest?

"I can think of dozens of ways to make the kind of dough you're contemplating without all the same significant legal ramifications/hassles (recognizing that anyone can sue anyone else for anything, but it's best not to give them an all-but-engraved invitation)."

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If you're looking for an income-making idea to fall from the sky, I'm not sure what to tell you.  I'd want you to think about what you like if not LOVE to do (or at least more than tolerate), that you're objectively good if not great at (at least passable and with a shot at being good over time).  Then think of a way to generate income from that. 

 

Doesn't matter if it's bedazzling cell phones or detailing cars, organizing someone's closet, kitchen or garage, being a ghost writer of love letters for someone, or [insert any number of] here.

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If you're looking for an income-making idea to fall from the sky, I'm not sure what to tell you.  I'd want you to think about what you like if not LOVE to do (or at least more than tolerate), that you're objectively good if not great at (at least passable and with a shot at being good over time).  Then think of a way to generate income from that. 

 

Doesn't matter if it's bedazzling cell phones or detailing cars, organizing someone's closet, kitchen or garage, being a ghost writer of love letters for someone, or [insert any number of] here.

Oh I thought you were stating that you had ideas relating to the topic of will writing. I already have a steady income I was only looking for ways to help others prepare their final wishes. My motivation came from a recent death of a young individual I knew who didnt have life insurance or a will but leaves behind 3.5 children by 3 different women (one child on the way) and no wife. His mother will not have the finances for probate to claim his assests and probably doesn't know the next steps to ensuring that his assests are split equally to all grandchildren.

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I have been researching will construction and state laws concerning validity of wills

 

Have you been trained as to how to conduct legal research.  Where did you do your research?  A law library?  Through a service such as Lexis or Westlaw?  Or did you simply do free searches on Google or other generally available Internet search sites?

 

 

 

I plan on construction very detailed questionaires and using the answers given to construct the will.

 

First of all, if the statement above is any indication of your ability to write in the English language, you have no business drafting ANYTHING for anyone other than yourself.  Second, what you're basically saying here is that you'll take a collection of facts provided by your "client," apply the law to those facts, and generate a will.  That is the very definition of practicing law.

 

 

 

I haven't found any information on the internet stating that it is illegal to charge people to create their wills and I figure if there are a bunch of random websites online charging $40-$100 for a basic will that is instantly printable, why shouldn't I be able to do the same?

 

If there were "a bunch of random" people running around vandalising cars or killing people, would you do that also?  I don't know which web sites you're talking about, but any legitimate site will be owned by a lawyer or lawyers or business entities who employ lawyers.  In any event, to answer your question, the answer is because you're not a lawyer.

 

 

 

Finally, I was thinking of getting my Notary Seal and was wondering if I would be able to notarize the wills upon completion following all notarizing laws

 

If, in fact, any state required wills to be notarized, and if, in fact, you could legally prepare wills for others, and if you were a notary in the applicable state, there would be no problem (although, if you're planning to do this online, how do you think you could legally notarize the testator's singature?).  However, most states do not require wills to be notarized (indeed, I'm not aware of any state that requires notarization but can't say with certainty that no state requires it).  That you don't appear to know something this basic certainly calls into question the research you claim to have done regarding "will construction and state laws concerning validity of wills."

 

 

 

I ask that you please keep all negative remarks to yourself if it isn't called for.

 

I interpret this as you asking us not to tell you anything that isn't supportive of your plan.  Obviously, that's silly, and I can assure you that everything I said above is completely called for.

 

 

 

My motivation came from a recent death of a young individual I knew who didnt have life insurance or a will but leaves behind 3.5 children by 3 different women (one child on the way) and no wife. His mother will not have the finances for probate to claim his assests and probably doesn't know the next steps to ensuring that his assests are split equally to all grandchildren.

 

In the situation you described, the deceased's mother has no interest in his estate because he died without a will and was survived by children.  His three children are entitled to his estate and, assuming they are minors, it is up to their mothers to pursue their claims on their behalf (whether the not yet born child might have an interest in the estate depends on the applicable state law, but I doubt it).  Since, as you noted, will preparation services are rather ubiquitous, but the deceased apparently didn't care enough to utilize them, I find it somewhat curious that this was your motivation.

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Have you been trained as to how to conduct legal research.  Where did you do your research?  A law library?  Through a service such as Lexis or Westlaw?  Or did you simply do free searches on Google or other generally available Internet search sites?

 

 

 

 

First of all, if the statement above is any indication of your ability to write in the English language, you have no business drafting ANYTHING for anyone other than yourself.  Second, what you're basically saying here is that you'll take a collection of facts provided by your "client," apply the law to those facts, and generate a will.  That is the very definition of practicing law.

 

 

 

 

If there were "a bunch of random" people running around vandalising cars or killing people, would you do that also?  I don't know which web sites you're talking about, but any legitimate site will be owned by a lawyer or lawyers or business entities who employ lawyers.  In any event, to answer your question, the answer is because you're not a lawyer.

 

 

 

 

If, in fact, any state required wills to be notarized, and if, in fact, you could legally prepare wills for others, and if you were a notary in the applicable state, there would be no problem (although, if you're planning to do this online, how do you think you could legally notarize the testator's singature?).  However, most states do not require wills to be notarized (indeed, I'm not aware of any state that requires notarization but can't say with certainty that no state requires it).  That you don't appear to know something this basic certainly calls into question the research you claim to have done regarding "will construction and state laws concerning validity of wills."

 

 

 

 

I interpret this as you asking us not to tell you anything that isn't supportive of your plan.  Obviously, that's silly, and I can assure you that everything I said above is completely called for.

 

 

 

 

In the situation you described, the deceased's mother has no interest in his estate because he died without a will and was survived by children.  His three children are entitled to his estate and, assuming they are minors, it is up to their mothers to pursue their claims on their behalf (whether the not yet born child might have an interest in the estate depends on the applicable state law, but I doubt it).  Since, as you noted, will preparation services are rather ubiquitous, but the deceased apparently didn't care enough to utilize them, I find it somewhat curious that this was your motivation.

 

Do not worry about where I've done my research. You are in fact the type of person I had in mind when I stated that uncalled for statements need not be made. I do not have to answer to you nor justify anything I said above. If I were only looking for supporting comments then I wouldn't have posted on this forum. There were people above who all disagreed with my idea but did it in a respectful and very tasteful manner.

 

I did not mention that I wanted to help the individual who passed away family. I simply stated that it motivated me to want to help others avoid the situation that his family is now facing. Please take your judgmental opinions somewhere else and stuff it where the sun won't shine.Thank you.

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I'm afraid "uncalled for" is in the eye of the beholder (and usually the person who wants to be told X instead of Y). 

He isn't saying you have to "answer to" him; he's asking questions.  People are entitled to be judgemental, I'm afraid; I warned you of this in the earlier response.

 

"Please take your judgmental opinions somewhere else and stuff it where the sun won't shine."

Yes indeed, that's very respectful; you understand first-hand how the First Amendment works:  you were free to make the comment (however, in light of your earlier remarks, it appears to be a tad hypocritical).

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While you are free to ask, I trust you understand you aren't free to expect

 

I'll try to give you credit when I use this quote in the future Tax

 

That’s not my quote; it’s Fallen’s. Don’t attribute it to me, I do not agree with it. I think it should be pretty apparent that a person is free to expect whatever they want, too. Whether that expectation is reasonable, however, is another matter.

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quote attributed to Fallen

 

 what you're trying to do is a bad idea, these smart guys get on your case because what you're talking about is a bad idea and there will be twice as many sharks who are 10x more critical attacking you in succession if you try to do this.  If you have income right now, don't invite people to take your hard earned money because you're trying to help someone because this wouldn't be a help and would most likely result in fighting amongst heirs because of ambiguous language or other unprofessional drafting errors. 

 

When it comes to money there is no "helping", there is just paying a professional.  If you don't have enough money to pay a professional than you really don't need a trust or will.  If someone "helps" you when drafting a  trust there will inevitably be significant problems in the document. 

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