Patricia Malley, of Burns & Levinson LLP, has made available for download her article, “I Have a Secret Relationship. How Do I Include Them in My Estate Plan?”, published in JDSUPRA. The abstract is as follows:
Typically, when couples put together an estate plan, they do so jointly with a single attorney representing both spouses. It is more cost-efficient, allows for open discussion with all parties, and ensures there are no conflicts within the estate plan itself. The downside is that the attorney represents both spouses and cannot keep one spouse’s secrets from the other. In certain circumstances, it may make sense to have separate estate planning attorneys, such as in blending family situations with conflicting interests or in the event of a “secret relationship.”
There are many examples of secret relationships. You could have a significant other from the past that you continue to provide for, unbeknownst to your partner you are married to, or another lover, or a child from a previous relationship that you never disclosed. In situations such as these, if you intend to keep the relationship a secret during your lifetime, then you will need to hire your own estate planning attorney so that your conversations remain confidential between you and your lawyer.
Of course, if you provide for a “secret” beneficiary in your documents, your surviving spouse, children, and other beneficiaries named in your documents will likely learn of this well-kept secret once you die. How do you ensure that your intentions are clear and will be followed after your death?
Posted by Marin Larkin, Associate Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal