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I recently had occasion to help a client with a problem. She had sold her husband's insurance agency to a family member after her husband died. Rather than engage the services of an attorney to draft the contract, my client and her family member got a form contract that was woefully insufficient. They filled out the internet contract, signed it, and the family member began making payments in accordance with the agreement.

Several years later the family member separated from her spouse and began divorce proceedings. She stopped making payments on the agreement. The agreement my client entered into with the family member did not provide any collateral or security whatsoever.

I was able to help remedy the problem faced by my client, but it cost her several thousand dollars. The client could possibly have avoided the legal expenses incurred for my services if she had come to me in the beginning and we had structured the agreement differently.

Do I need a lawyer for a matter? Ask yourself that question. A significant number of the matters that I have worked on in my 41 year career as a lawyer have involved transactions where the parties did not seek legal advice at the time of making the initial agreement.

About the Author: Richard H. Cochran has been a partner at Ruddell, Cochran, Stanton, Smith & Bixler since 1978. His areas of practice include business formation and representation, preparing and evaluating business related documents and contracts, and estate planning and estate administration.

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