I Advise You To Like Me As Soon As Possible - Chapter 24.1
Chapter 24 (part 1)
Fu Zheng was beginning to have a far better understanding of what Gao Yuan had previously said. In some ways, Ning Wan was truly excellent.
"Aunt Wang, these TV dramas are deceptive. The law doesn't work like this at all."
Her voice interrupted Fu Zheng's thoughts. He got his thoughts in order quickly and picking up on her cues, reorganized his emotions to carefully explain, "Aunt Wang, what you are talking about is called a handwritten will. A handwritten will must be written and signed by the testator, and it takes effect without requiring any witnesses. However, the law recognizes several different other ways of creating a will."
"The first is a testament. To put it simply, Aunt Wang, you can't write, so someone else will write it for you. So long as there are at least two witnesses who have no interest in your house and are willing to sign off on the will along with you, this will work."
"The second is even simpler. You can record your will. It also requires at least two witnesses with nothing to gain from the situation. Who witnessed it for you is then recorded down in writing, and finally everyone signs."
"The third way is an oral will, but this is generally not recommended. It's only used for times in which someone is in critical condition, and it also requires two neutral witnesses. If the person makes it through the critical situation, the oral will becomes invalid, so disputes often arise because of this."
Fu Zheng smiled. "I recommend that you obtain a notarized will. You can ask for it at the notary office where household registration is done. It's extremely inexpensive."
Wang Liying's spirits rose. "And as long as I do this, it will be legally binding? Is there really no need to marry Lu Feng?"
"Of course," Ning Wan said, her eyes twinkling. "If you will clarify your relationship with Lu Feng, we are more than happy to help you communicate with him. There is no need to go to court. Isn't this a win-win situation for us all?"
Wang Liying looked as though she was tempted, but her face soon fell. "But... even though all my children are registered in Rong City, my household registration is still in my hometown out in the country. I'm no longer in good health and I can't afford to go back to my hometown for a notarization. Can someone else do it for me?"
Ning Wan shook her head. "A notarized will must be handled in person. However, if you cannot go in person due to illness or other special reasons, you can request for the notary office to send a notary to you. That said, once this has been done, any further changes must go through that particular notary office, which is actually rather inconvenient."
Pausing, Ning Wan looked at Wang Liying.
In old age, minds changed. Perhaps she didn't want to give anything to her sons right now, but at the end of her life, she might once again change her mind.
"Since you've said that your hometown is in a rural area, it may be troublesome for you to contact the local notary office there. In addition, it will make it difficult for you to change or revoke the will. I would actually recommend that you have a lawyer witness the will."
"What does that mean? What should I do?"
"You can entrust the matter to us. We will write you a clear will according to what you want, and be your witnesses. We will handle for you all legal procedures and documents. The fee is fairly inexpensive."
A will written by a lawyer required two lawyers as witnesses, at least one of whom was a practicing lawyer. Ning Wan and Fu Zheng met these requirements.
Wang Liying asked for a good many details, and Fu Zheng and Ning Wan answered them all patiently. However, the old woman remained slightly uneasy and hesitant. "My two sons are heartless, and now here I am with this evil disease. I don't have long to live, and I've never eaten or lived well in this life of mine. I don't want to be abandoned in my last few years, but if I tell them that I gave the house to Xiao Lu, my two sons will no longer care whether I live or die. Xiao Lu has a kind heart, but what if he changes after I say I'll give him the house? Then what will I do?"
"My health has been very poor after chemotherapy. If there's no one to care for me in my time of need..."
Wang Liying trailed off, but Ning Wan immediately understood. "Were you desperately trying to marry him because you were worrying about this?"
Wang Liying nodded, flushing. "Don't they said that all couples must take care of each other? I thought that if we were legally married, we would be relatives. It's normal for Xiao Lu to inherit my house, and Xiao Lu will take care of me in my old age..."
Once she said this, Ning Wan understood everything.
Wang Liying had tried to force Lu Feng to marry her firstly because she was ignorant of the law and poisoned by nonsense TV dramas. Secondly, she, too, had her own selfish hopes. She felt that after getting married, Lu Feng would be obligated to support her, thus guaranteeing her retirement. In return, she would leave Lu Feng her house after her death. It was a very fair deal in her opinion.
"That is also a very easy matter. You simply need to draw up a legacy-support agreement1." Ning Wan smiled. "That means that you will sign a contract with Lu Feng. In return for supporting you for the rest of your life, Lu Feng will inherit your money and house."
"This..... what's this agreement about? Is it protected by law? Will it count? "
Wang Liying obviously didn't fully understand, so Fu Zheng chimed in and added more details, giving her an ELI5 in more approachable language.
As Wang Liying's face gradually began to clear, Fu Zheng continued to patiently answer her questions until she fully understood the ins and outs of the legacy-support agreement.
Her eyes lit up, and she said vigorously, "Excellent, excellent! That's exactly it, that's just what I want!"
"However, I do have to tell you that be it an inheritance from a will or a legacy-support agreement, you must have Lu Feng's agreement on the matter. The legacy-support agreement is a contract, which makes it even more important for both parties to see eye-to-eye."
The three talked over a good many details, and finally agreed to take things one at a time. First, the slander dispute would be mediated, then they would bring up the agreement to Lu Feng.
After so long this case was finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and when she left Wang Liying's house, Ning Wan heaved a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness, that was just a dumb guess on my part! Now Lu Feng won't have to bear any trumped-up charges."
Though she phrased it very modestly, Fu Zheng was very aware that it wasn't dumb luck at all. "How sure were you?"
Ning Wan was stunned for a moment. Then she smiled in appreciation of how quickly Fu Zheng picked things up. "About 80%."
"You've dipped your fingers into a few community cases, but the fact is that not every resident in the community has sound legal knowledge. It may surprise you how badly people may misunderstand or misinterpret the law. But if you've done a lot of cases, you can occasionally put yourself in their shoes and imagine the issue from their perspective. This allows you to handle cases much more smoothly."
"I've met people before," Ning Wan reminisced, "Who thought that so long as they were ignorant of a law they could not be held accountable. There are also people who feel that so long as there are enough people involved, all breaking the law together, they won't be charged."
"Grassroots law education still has a long way to go," she smiled. "That's why we need community lawyers. Every case subtly changes the views of a few. Regular lectures will help to eradicate legal illiteracy. Yes, it doesn't pay well and it's tedious, but there is a kind of pride in being able to make a real difference in another person's life."
She looked at Fu Zheng as she spoke. "How do you feel right now? Relaxed? Accomplished?"
Not waiting for an answer, Ning Wan tilted her head back and looked up at the sky. "When I was first sent here, I was also full of complaints. I looked down at the job, feeling that lawyers should look like those glamorous roles in TV dramas - elite, only dealing with cases that involve millions; speaking every day in jargon that no one else understands. All emails bilingual in Chinese and English, everyone I talk to an executive or an industry leader."
"But then I learned that although these TV drama lawyers do exist, the best lawyers serve only the upper 20% of the population. No one manages the legal disputes of the other 70% to 80%, the ordinary people in our country. Good grassroots lawyers are rare, but it just doesn't pay well enough, so no one outstanding is willing to work here."
She glanced at Fu Zheng. "Although what we're dealing with now seems trivial, it could really affect someone's life. So when you think about it, don't you think that this little trivial case is actually a pretty big and important one?"
Fu Zheng was a very proud man. Even though he was currently in the community, he was still holding onto his stiff and unyielding attitude. Deep down, if he was truly honest with himself, he didn't value community law. In his previous experience, the grassroots were full of graduates from low-level schools with poor resumes, incompetent in everything but their ability to whine about their talents not being recognized.
But Ning Wan was experienced, clever, and flexible when handling cases. She earned money like she was selling cabbage, but with the stress of selling white powder2. It was his first time seeing someone, with no brainwashing needed, who could pour herself a cup of chicken soup3; who was poor yet strove to continue being poor.
It was slightly novel and admirable.
Having worked in the commercial field for a good many years, Fu Zheng had been feeling like he had lost his enthusiasm for legal work.
The field of commercial litigation no longer held any challenge for him. 80-90% of the cases he saw were familiar, and the remaining 10-20% took only a little brains to solve. Though this state was very stable - there being both a good source of cases and a good reputation - Fu Zheng felt that as the days went by he was getting more and more uninterested in his job, no longer able to feel the quickly-changing, wonderful law that he had reveled in when he had first started his career.
However, these last few days he gradually felt his past enthusiasm for work being rekindled as he followed Ning Wan about, watching her handle community cases. Every case was like a clever little puzzle. You never knew what strange taste you would get at the end of it, because you never knew quite where it was going until you reached the very end.
When thought about that way, it was indeed quite exciting.
He cocked his head to glance at Ning Wan. Bathed in the sun, her whole body seemed to glow. She was fair and beautiful and undeniably dazzling. When he had first seen her he had pegged her as a narrow-minded vase, but at this moment, standing there staring at her profile, Fu Zheng felt dizzy. Now that he thought about it, the villa he was remodeling was in need of a vase. It would be nice to have some flowers in the house...
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