Marriage is a partnership. Any partnership requires working together and, perhaps, compromise. But what if there is disagreement, especially when it comes to your estate planning?
In Overland Park and elsewhere, marriage counselors stay in business because of marital disharmony. Commonly, they represent both spouses and seek to find common ground in a team approach. When it comes to estate planning, however, attorneys face a potential ethical dilemma. For example, estate planning attorneys cannot favor one spouse over the other, nor can they cannot keep the secrets of one spouse from the other spouse in the course of “dual representation.”
While there is no sense starting trouble, sometimes spouses really do have different estate planning interests. This can create an marital conflict for the spouses and an ethical conflict for their estate planning attorney, as explored in a recent Forbes article titled “Ethics in Estate Planning for a Married Couple” This certainly is an issue of concern for attorneys (and their malpractice carriers), not to mention for their clients to understand and appreciate.
Indeed, at certain junctures it might be necessary for spouses to even engage separate attorneys to wrangle their way through an estate planning impasse. This happens many times with prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, but in other places besides.
Perhaps you do not need separate counsel? Great! In the end, however, proper estate planning requires planning for the wishes of each spouse and their marriage, as well as the loved ones and others impacted in the process.
Remember: When making your financial, tax and estate plans, don't go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS, and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: Forbes (April 26, 2013) “Ethics in Estate Planning for a Married Couple”