1.I am often asked, “Need lawyer one ah?” My answer (*most of the time) is, “No need! But better to have one”. Some view the role of a lawyer as a mere “form filler”. Well, I wish that our jobs were that brainless and I did not have to invest so much of my mental capacity into my job. Even the most straightforward of our work involves layers of risk / liability / responsibility, which is often not apparent on the surface of things.
2. A good such example is in the preparation of Wills. I came across an informative article (https://lawgazette.com.sg/feature/legal-responsibilities-borne-by-wills-drafting-lawyers-that-are-not-apparent-on-the-face-of-the-will/) written by a senior lawyer on the legal responsibilities of a lawyer in Will drafting. The contents of this article serve as a useful reminder to lawyers on their responsibilities, and also informative to the general public,on the other aspects of getting a Will done properly beyond the mere drafting itself.
3. There are many ways to approach preparation of Wills. Some adopt a “cut-and-paste” cookie-cutter approach, which allow a faster turnaround and also some savings in short-term costs. At JinHuang Legal LLC however, we believe in doing things properly. Generally, we adopt a 2-step approach:
3.1 Step 1: Arranging a consultation to take instructions from the testator, and to advise on the best and most cost-effective way to prepare the Will. Sometimes more detail is required, other times not so much detail is required. Most importantly, the Will should reflect the testator’s intentions, and the testator should not fit their intentions to suit any particular template.
3.2 Step 2: Depending on what the testator has decided on, we will provide our fee quote. If agreed, and upon payment, we will proceed to prepare the Will and then arrange for the signing of the Will once the contents are confirmed. We also will register the Will as a complimentary service upon request (*subject to the client paying any administrative charges involved)
4. I have experimented with various methods to keep my charges as affordable as possible. At 1 point, I was prepared to dispense with Step 1 if the testator confirmed that they only wanted to prepare a Straightforward Will and did not require legal advice. However, they would inevitably have questions and I would end up taking my time to answer them [*Note: Quality and responsibility is something we do not compromise on]. I also had to turn away some parties who did not seem to be in the right frame of mind, and refused to come back another day or provide me with a medical memo that the testator had sufficient mental capacity. So, Step 1 is non-negotiable, as we at JinHuang Legal LLC are focused on doing things right.
5. As a matter of perspective, saving of a few hundred dollars does not even make financial sense. The amount of legal fees drowns in comparison to the cost of even a small mistake in preparing your Will. Attempting to save on legal fees is akin to attempting open-heart-surgery on yourself – not a very smart thing to do. Instead of leaving this world with peace of mind that your estate will be distributed in accordance to your wishes, you will be leaving your intended beneficiaries with more headache and problems, to add on to the grief of losing you.