WESA Will Lead to More Contested – Homemade Wills

Homemade Wills

After 42 years of practicing law in  the estate area I am  well aware of the reluctance  on the public  to pay a lawyer’s hourly rate to prepare what they invariably regard is a “simple” will. (Every lawyer  should know there is no such thing as a simple will)

Many lawyers have historically been prepared to prepare wills as a loss leader , but with increased overheads and consumer  sensitivity to price,  there is friction in the area of preparation of wills, powers of attorney, representation agreements and other estate planning documents  that, when combined with the information available on the Internet , will cause many in the public to cost  save by preparing their own wills and other estate documents .

As the public becomes more aware of the curative provisions of WESA, they will become increasingly encouraged  to prepare their own wills, often through Internet  “will kits “.

Probably most of the many hundreds of wills that I prepared earlier in my career had the clients express  some shock   at the mount of my bill  for services rendered, and compared it to when they last had their wills  prepared 30 years ago when they were $25 each .

Most law firms that are economically viable in wills and estates now charge their hourly rate , which  is often much higher than the client is prepared to pay.

I limit my practice to estate litigation primarily contesting  wills , and given the frugalness of the public  to pay for estate planning ,  the  inevitable increase in homemade wills  will give rise to more litigation  relating to those wills, primarily in the areas of mental capacity and undue influence .

The Curative provisions  of WESA were well-intentioned and generally are reasonable once the court is satisfied that the documents reflect the intentions of the deceased .

The problem essentially is that the legal test for mental capacity is a legal test, not medical, and the removal of the  lawyer  from the preparation of the will process  is simply an unintended  consequence  that will ultimately lead to more contested “homemade” wills  litigation .

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