According to a recent article on Forbes.com, the importance of estate planning for married couples cannot be stressed enough. The seriousness of such forward thinking is even more critical in blended families which tend to present more opportunities for volatility following the death of a parent.
The first issue for all couples to resolve is whether to be represented jointly by the same estate planning lawyer or for you each to go it alone. While joint representation can be more cost-effective, it can mean that both parties don’t have the freedom to speak up about their individual concerns. Unless there is healthy communication between the spouses joint representation can be a recipe for disaster.
The following are some good rules of thumbs to consider when deciding whether you need your own or joint representation:
- Only one of you has children. Most people want to leave their estate to their children but if the other spouse has no children of their own then the parent may fear dying first and leaving their kids with nothing.
- Rich spouse, poor spouse. A large disparity in income between spouses can effect joint planning and may be a good reason to go your own way.
- One of you does all of the talking. If one party dominates the other in the planning phase this could be a sign of communication problems to come. As a result the one spouse may not feel happy with the final deal and an estate planner should recognize this discrepancy in power between the parties and consider pursuing separate representation.
- Length of the relationship. The shorter the relationship, the greater reason to get separate attorneys.
- The number of past relationships. Another pretty solid rule of thumb is that the greater the number of past relationships one, or both of you, have had, the greater the chance that you need separate estate-planning representation.
- Large age difference. The greater the age difference between you, the greater the need to consider separate representation as you both are in very different places in your lives and face unique concerns.
If you have questions about probating an estate planning contact a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer to talk about your estate, will or forming a trust.
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