Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Be Wary about Using Computer-Generated Forms

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Be Wary about Using Computer-Generated Forms

Article excerpt

Q: How legal are the forms for things like wills that you can get from computer programs now on the market? Do such forms have to be filed somewhere, or can we just keep them until needed?

A: That's a pretty broad question. Whether a form is "legal" depends on several things: what it says, how it is filled out, what it is being used for, who is using it.

I personally wouldn't be too quick to rely on a legal form generated by a computer program for anything important.

With regard to one form you mentioned, for a will, I can tell you that a will need not be recorded during the maker's lifetime. It can simply be kept in a safe place until needed. However, don't put it in a safe deposit box, because your executor might have a hard time getting to it.

Q: My mother is nearly blind, deaf and senile. Is there any way I can get a power of attorney without her signature?

A: I'm not aware of any way you can get a power of attorney to act for someone without that person's signature, which is required by statute.

Besides the question of a signature, another consideration is the issue of meaningful consent. If your mother is in fact senile, one would question whether she is actually competent to grant a power of attorney even if you could get her to sign a piece of paper to that effect.

You may want to consider becoming your mother's conservator or guardian. A conservator is a representative who takes care of a person's financial matters. A guardian is also a representative but one with much broader powers.

You can only become a conservator or guardian by court appointment. You would have to file a petition asking for such appointment and explaining why it is necessary. The court would then have to approve your petition.

Q: I have a question about frivolous child-support claims.

My son by a previous marriage turned 18 five years ago. Under my divorce agreement, I was to pay child support until he reached age 18 or was otherwise emancipated.

Since my son hadn't finished high school when he was 18, I agreed to pay continued support. However, when he dropped out of school, I stopped payments. For the past five years, I have been harassed by the state with threats of legal action, reports to credit bureaus and charges of interest for nine months of supposedly delinquent child-support payments. …

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