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                                         94 N.J.L.J. 17
                                        January 14, 1971


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Will Forms: Sale By Layman

    The single issue to be covered in this Opinion is whether the solicitation by a layman for the sale of will forms, in the manner shown below, constitutes the unauthorized practice of law.
    An advertisement has appeared in newspapers published and circulated in New Jersey, as follows:

What Happens If I Die Without a Will?

        The court, in effect, writes your will for you. If you have minor children the court decides which relatives (guardian) will raise your children. When no will is left, checking and savings accounts are often immediately frozen...many times for years!

        Expensive court costs, legal fees and seemingly unending trips to court. Stocks, property, automobile titles - all tied up! The problems are too numerous to list here.

        Anyone can do it. American Will Forms have published a simple but binding, legal will form that can be completed in minutes. (Valid in 50 states).

        Self-explanatory instructions, general information included. Sit right down this very minute and send $2.00 today. If not 100% satisfied, return within 10 days for an immediate refund. If you have already made a will why not order some forms for your close relatives?

(Name and Address of Advertiser)

    Similar advertisements have been broadcast by local radio stations in New Jersey.

    It is the opinion of the Committee that such solicitation does constitute the unauthorized practice of law by a person not authorized to practice law in this state. It also is penalized by N.J.S.A. 2A:170-78(b).
    The advertisement is very similar to the one before the Texas Court of Civil Appeals in Bill Palmer, d/b/a National Will Form Co. v. Unauthorized Practice Committee of the State Bar of Texas, 438 S.W. 2d 374 (1969), in which the Court affirmed an injunction granted by a lower court restraining Mr. Palmer from offering will forms for sale to the general public.
    Mr. Palmer was a layman, not licensed to practice law in Texas, or in any other state. He had carried on an advertising campaign in the newspapers throughout Texas for the sale of will forms. The Texas Court of Civil Appeals in citing Cape May County Bar Association v. Ludlam, 45 N.J. 21 (1965), pointed out that selection of the proper legal form was the exercise of legal judgment, and therefore constituted the practice of law.
    We are aware of the New York Court of Appeals decision in New York County Lawyers' Association v. Dacey, 21 N.Y. 2d 694 (1967), which adopted the dissenting opinion of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, 28 A.D. 2d 161 (1967), which found that publication of Mr. Dacey's book of forms did not constitute the unauthorized practice of law in New York. The opinion appears to be based upon the premise that since the book offered general advise rather advice directed to an individual, an essential ingredient of the practice of law was missing. We do not concur with such a narrow basis when considering the protection of the public.
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