People mistakenly believe that an attorney-drafted will is expensive. If one looks around, they can probably find an attorney that will draft a “Simple Will Kit” for $100.00 or less. This price is comparable to commercial “Do It Yourself” wills. The difference is that an attorney-drafted simple will kit usually includes A} the Simple Will, B} a “Living Will,” and C} a Durable Power of Attorney. Commercial wills sell each of those items separately. For most estates under $1.8 million dollars, the Simple Will Kit is sufficient to cover the client’s needs. One can avoid the much more expensive Living Trust option, which has become popular in recent years. The big difference between having an attorney draft your will and purchasing the commercial kits is that the commercial kits are seldom state-specific. With an attorney-drafted will, the client can sit down with the attorney and ask questions and discuss options of how to reduce, or even avoid, probate. Many times, married couples will seek “Mirror Wills.” In Mirror Wills situations, the two wills state the same thing, except the spouses’ names are switched in each will. Therefore, I could take the Wife’s will and read the Husband’s will, merely by switching the names. When the Wife’s will says her name, I read it as if the Husband’s name appears. When the Husband’s name appears, I read the Wife’s name. Since the location of the spouses’ names are the only difference between the two wills, and making a second will with that one change takes only seconds on a computer, many attorneys will either reduce, or waive, the costs of the second Simple Will Kit if both are executed at the same time. The other benefit of an attorney-drafted will, over commercial “fill in the blank” wills, is that the attorney-drafted will reduces the chance a family member will claim the will is fake or coerced, because a third-party drafted the will. (Of course, one can retain an attorney to only draft a part of the Simple Will Kit, such as a Durable Power of Attorney). If you need a will, and live in the Montgomery County, Tennessee area, or wish to travel to Clarksville, Tennessee, call attorney Gregory D. Smith at 931/647-1299 for an appointment.

Attorneys still have the ability to contact inmates via Skype, Zoom, Face-time, or other video chats during the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, shut-ins at nursing homes can be contacted by attorneys because the legal profession is deemed an “essential service” by state and federal governments. Most of these contacts are actually easier for the attorney than a face-to-face visit because the attorney does not have to leave their office. The attorney instead merely sets up a video visit time with the nursing home, jail or prison and then uses a laptop computer or cell phone for the visit, telling the nursing home, jail or prison how long the visit is expected to take. For the inmates, these visits are confidential, so the attorney/client privilege is not violated. For shut-ins, it depends on the circumstances of the shut-in’s health or understanding. Recently, I’ve had incarcerated clients ask that I check on family members they have not spoken to recently because of COVID-19. I simply call the loved one, then send a note to the client on how the loved one is doing. Most attorneys will offer a similar courtesy, if asked. If you need an attorney, and your case is on appeal anywhere in Tennessee, or your civil or criminal case is in the Montgomery County, Tennessee area, call attorney Gregory D. Smith at 931/647-1299.

The COVID-19 pandemic may temporarily delay a lawsuit, but it does not stop a lawsuit. While courts may be closed for all but extraordinary or emergency circumstances, cases can still be filed, discovery continues, and mediation occurs. Be sure to check with your attorney because time deadlines may be running. Legal representation is one of the listed “essential services” that continue, even though most businesses are closed, so your attorney should be available, either in person, via Skype, or by phone. On April 22, 2020, I have the honor speaking to approximately 800 judges from across the U.S. (and in several other countries) about the judge’s ethical duty to move cases along during a pandemic as part of a National Judicial College country-wide podcast. If you wish to talk with an attorney about your case in the Montgomery County, Tennessee area, and you have not already retained a lawyer, call attorney Gregory D. Smith at 931/647-1299. #covid19 #lawyer #lawyers

Every person needs a Will. Some attorneys will try to push a client into establishing Living Trust, or a Revocable Living Trust, or an Irrevocable Living Trust. For most people, a Simple Will meets the needs of the vast majority of estates. A trust is generally only a necessity for estates of 2 million dollars or more. Millionaires need trusts. For the rest of the people in the world, a Simple Will will cover the needs of most people. Basic estate planning can avoid most estate issues merely by the eventual deceased directing how assets will be distributed after death while a person is living. There is no need to pay the added expense of a Trust, when a Simple Wills handles the same issue for considerably less expense. If you live in or around the Montgomery County, Tennessee area, feel free to set up a free Will consultation with the Law Firm of Gregory D. Smith at 931/647-1299.