One of over a dozen books written by Bryan Garner.
It was a major influence on my professional work and since then, I've read several of his other books.
"I want to write clearly, thoughtfully, and with straightforward explanations. Not all writing these days need to have a heading starting with a number and 4 paragraphs long.
Legal drafting is a technical subject. It has to be precise as reasonable, given the time constraints. I aim for conciseness and to be understandable in all aspects of my work.
Keep in mind that Massachusetts has an estate tax, so some documents need tax provisions. These tend to be dense.
But apart from these tax provisions, I work to eliminate many needless words that make reading legal documents difficult and even nearly impossible to comprehend. I don't always succeed. But I have this attitude.
We want to -
Also, I want our documents to -
WHAT IS PLAIN ENGLISH IN LAW?
I want you (and your family members after you) to more fully understand your estate planning.
Legal documents that include those wishes are technical (usually tax-driven) documents with much required precise language. Effort can be expended by us lawyers so you can better understand them. As usual, finding the time and energy is the enemy for quality and understanding.
With you in mind, I try to use simpler explanations, eliminate needless words, and be typographically sensitive.
Let's cut the crap...
Lawyers' writing is notorious for being overly complicated and full of needless words and phrases.
For many years (centuries), the public has had this concern. For decades, legal scholars and attorneys have highlighted these issues.
I've been reading about the plain English subject for 15+ years. I work daily to improve my native, somewhat weak skills.
Like most people, I don't enjoy reading legal documents that need a good, serious edit to be more readable.
The theory behind Plain English
I consider attorney author Bryan Garner to be the leading advocate for a change to a more direct writing style.
He's written about 20 books, with his newest being 'Garner's Guidelines for Drafting & Editing Contracts.'
Another book I thoroughly enjoyed was Kenneth Adams' 'Adams on Contract Drafting.'
This book explains that in any legal document, we use roughly seven different categories of language. Each category serves a different function.
My documents are plainER, not plain
I work hard to make my writing as clear as possible. (By the way, I try to find the time to edit and edit every day, as it is a consistent issue).
And, because some legal documents have intricate tax or trust law meaning, not all aspects of our documents are easy to understand without at least a second re-reading.
These tax provisions are sometimes needed because Massachusetts and the IRS continue to have an estate tax.
To better deal with these facts, and to work towards lower estate tax, tax provisions are in some documents. Typically, it is the Massachusetts estate tax of assets over $1 million that is the biggest problem.
Your gross taxable estate includes all you own, in any form. Your estate includes a residence, IRAs, 403(b), life insurance, and other assets.
In a nutshell, we need less than simple language for some documents. So, maybe 'plainER' better describes some of our documents.
However, apart from these special provisions, I work hard to eliminate much of the needless words that make reading legal documents difficult - sometimes nearly impossible.
We live in an area of the greater Boston area, with clients in Lexington, MA, and the nearby localities of Winchester, Belmont, Waltham, Lincoln, Bedford, Concord, Burlington, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Cambridge, Boston, Somerville, and Watertown, MA.
It is an area full of highly educated persons who like to understand what they are doing.
Lawyers use different approaches in their drafting of trust, wills, and other estate planning documents.
Here are some thoughts on revocable living trusts for residents near us in Lexington, MA, where I live and work.
Most middle-aged people aren’t ready for their inevitable death. We make estate planning simple, affordable, and quick. So people can live in peace, knowing their affairs are in order.
What we do:
We're a law firm, that practices in the trusts and estates area. We write wills and trusts. We also do estate administration. We handle the estate planning needs of many people.
We deal with:
We encourage people of all wealth levels to get proper estate planning. We can do an estate plan for most people. We're considered progressive in our automation techniques.
We're known as one of the more forward thinking estate planning lawyers. And our automation approach is noted in national treatise on Trusts.