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Monday, April 23, 2012

One in five faulty wills could lead to big IHT bills | Ian Cowie, Telegraph Blogs

Uh, IHT means "inheritance tax."

Cowie writes that lack of clarity about a will-writer’s intentions can prove difficult and expensive to sort out after someone's death. But he writes that the Legal Services Board (in the United Kingdom) claims many will-writers are simply “not listening” to their clients. Its report states:
We found consistent patterns of sloppiness, simple errors and poor communication. This often resulted in an unacceptable service for customers. Too often consumers were subjected to unfair sales practices.
I'm sure this problem is also real in the United States.

The article refers to sloppiness, simple errors and poor communication in will-writing, but it doesn't but doesn't explain those terms. Although lawyers might disagree, I believe some of the problems must be caused by the use of legalese--or unclear legal jargon understood only by attorneys and judges.

It doesn't have to be that way. If legalese must be used in wills, it also must be defined clearly and concisely--within the same document--so lay people can understand what it means. And especially, it must be defined clearly and concisely to the client before she or he signs that document.

I recommend Legal Writing in Plain English by Bryan A. Garner. He also provides the writing wisdom in Garner's Modern American Usage.



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