Will need not be notarized

Q. I have a will that was prepared some time ago. It is not notarized. Is it still valid?

A. In Texas, a printed or form will is valid if it is signed and witnessed by two people. There is no requirement that a will be notarized. Having said that, however, there are two things in your question that suggest you might want to get a new will prepared.

First, you say the will was prepared “some time ago.” I am not sure how long ago “some time” is, but it may be a good idea to get a new updated will. Both the law and your situation might have changed. Second, although a will does not have to be notarized to be valid, it should be notarized to make it easier and less costly to probate. My suggestion is to get a new will with a “self-proving affidavit,” the formal name for the notary’s statement.

Q. I had a slip and fall type accident at a major food store— it was mainly a slip, and I tried hard not to fall. I still injured myself, and reported it to the store director. He told me he had seen it, and immediately wiped the floor quickly to clean up whatever it was that I slipped on. He took my name and told me he would file a claim. He then called and said they would not compensate me. I am still suffering from the effects of that incident. What do I do now?A. For the store to be responsible, you must show it was negligent. That means that it knew about the liquid you slipped on and did not take reasonable steps to clean it. If it was simply an accident, and no one’s fault, the store has no liability. If you feel store was negligent and its negligence caused you to slip, consider a claim in small claims court to recover your medical expenses.

Q. I would like to know if I could do anything about a debt collector that continually calls our house. The collector is not looking for anyone in my household, but is asking about a relative, my uncle. We have stated that the uncle does not live in our household and we don’t know where he is. We told him to stop calling our home immediately. His response was he will continue to call us because he has our number. One time he asked for the last four digits of my social security number to confirm I was not the person they were trying to contact. Is there anything I can do?

A. I suggest you first review the debt collection section on my Web site, www.peopleslawyer.net. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it is unlawful for a debt collector to contact anyone except the debtor, except to get location information. In my opinion, once you told the debt collector that the person was not at your house and you didn’t know where he was, the collector cannot call again. Under this law, you could be entitled to $1,000 in statutory damages if you were to sue in small claims court. I suggest you let the collector know you know about this law, and consider small claims court if he calls again. You also should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Q. I have been divorced since May 1999. I am planning to get married again in July. If I die before my child support obligation is completed, where does the money come from to continue the support? Will my new wife be obligated to pay?

A. As a general rule, the obligation to pay support ends upon the death of the obligated party. In other words, the obligation ends upon your death. If you were married at the time of your death, your wife would have no obligation to pay.

Do you want to know more about your legal rights? Check out my Web site, www.peopleslawyer.net.

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