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Who needs a lawyer? Can’t I just take care of things myself? After all, there is a lot of information available on the internet….

The internet won’t give you a complete picture of any legal matter, and it won’t tell you how your personal situation should change a “canned” document or procedure.

Consider these situations, which actually happened:

    • A woman had written a valid will all by herself – in writing, giving away property, signed at the end. However, she added a postscript giving away more things, writing it below her signature. The court refused to validate those extra bequests because Pennsylvania law says a will must be signed at the end. Much of her intended plan was made impossible.
    • A person’s parent died, leaving considerable amount in a brokerage account. The person decided to settle the estate all by himself, to save legal fees … and failed to file the required Pennsylvania inheritance tax return by the deadline. What happens when you miss a tax return deadline? There are penalties and interest. The person also missed the opportunity to get a discount from the taxes due by making an early pre-payment.
    • A business owner also owned the building where the business operated. He titled the building so it was owned by a C corporation, because he wanted to protect his personal assets from any liability claims. However, when the property is in a C corporation, the owner could not use the depreciation to shelter his own personal income.
    • A person started a business in a building he owned right beside his residence. He wrote a lease by which the business, which was a corporation, leased space in the building. His business prospered so he brought in some partners, but they never had any sort of partnership agreement. Then the person who started the business had a falling out with the other partners and left the business – which the others then continued in the building beside his house, and they did not have to move because they still ran the business that had a lease.

Who needs a lawyer? Everyone who wants things to be done correctly, and who wants to avoid problems in the future.