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Issue 27 | May 2014

LIANSWERS

This newsletter includes information to help lawyers reduce the likelihood of being sued for malpractice. The material presented is not intended to establish, report, or create the standard of care for lawyers. The articles do not represent a complete analysis of the topics presented, and readers should conduct their own appropriate legal research.
WHERE THERE’S A WILL (THERE’S A TYPO)

It’s pretty simple advice, but based on some of the claims we see, warrants reminding – taking the time to properly proofread each will you draft will drastically reduce your risk of a claim.

How do you improve your proofreading accuracy? Consider the following steps:

Allocate enough time
Unless completion is urgent, don’t draft and proof read a will on the same day. You’re much more likely to spot errors after you’ve had a break from the document.

Focus
Proofread in a quiet place, one were you’re unlikely to be interrupted and where you’re most likely to be able to concentrate at the level required.

Use a checklist
Essential elements of a will may be easier to recognize if you can compare it with a proper checklist featuring a list of all will provisions and which prompts you to consider contingencies that can result from the specific details of the estate and the instructions.

Print a copy
Many proofreaders find it easier to spot errors once onscreen content comes off a printer. In addition, printing a document may also reveal formatting issues that went unnoticed in the e-version of the will. 

Read the will out loud
This will help you identify errors you eyes may have skipped over.

Render details consistently
Confirm correct spellings of the relevant parties and other details, then use these spellings consistently.

Scrutinize facts and language
When proofreading, look out for language errors as well as significant errors relating to the will’s details. Be sure to fact-check the document as you proceed, paying attention to each fact alleged. Each time, ask yourself if the fact requires further investigation. Cross-reference the will against your client notes and review both sets of information carefully with your client. If anything in the will seems unusual or contradicts instructions from an earlier version of your client’s will, confirm the provision with the testator and document the reasons in their file.

Find a second pair of eyes Finally, hand the will over to someone who didn’t draft it. Over familiarity with a document can diminish your ability to spot problems.

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