Category Archives: Divorce/Separation

Can I Change My Will Without Telling My Spouse?

Like many things in the law, it depends.  In general, you can change your will without informing your spouse. (One big exception to this would be if one of you has filed for divorce and there is a restraining order on assets.) This can sometimes come up if there are marital difficulties and you want to make someone else the executor of your estate or perhaps you had a spouse’s family member listed as a beneficiary and want to change that. The real question is whether you can or should use the same attorney who drafted the wills for you and your spouse in better days.

Attorneys can only represent two clients in the same matter as long as there is full disclosure and agreement of all involved, so that there is no conflict of interest. Usually, when a couple comes in together to do their estate plan, I feel comfortable representing them both since they both have the same interests. I have them sign something saying they understand the conflict of interest issues and that I may disclose information from one party to the other.

In general, if you are wanting to change your estate plan to remove your spouse from certain documents, you would probably be safest to seek a new attorney and not use the same one who represented both you and your spouse. By helping you remove your spouse or change what they would inherit, the attorney could be taking an action that would be adverse to their other client, your spouse. This could possibly put the attorney in violation of their ethical duty or result in their needing to tell your spouse what is happening, as you agreed during the joint representation. By seeking an entirely new attorney, you can be assured that their sole loyalty is to you, and you don’t run the risk that they may need to disclose your plan to your spouse.

Estate Planning After Divorce – Can I Choose A Guardian?

One of the most important parts of an estate plan for a family with minor children is selecting the guardian to care for the children if both parents pass away.  This decision can be stressful for intact families, and seemingly impossible for parents who are no longer together. No matter which parent is in myContinue Reading

Estate Planning After Divorce – Who Handles The Money?

If I am divorced and I pass away, does my child’s other parent automatically get any money I leave to my children? This is a common question from my clients, and something that often holds people up from making a plan.  The simple answer is: not necessarily.  The more complete answer is below. Check theContinue Reading

Action Item – Check Your Estate Plan Before Filing for Divorce

Some people get overwhelmed with the idea of getting their affairs in order and as a result find it easier to do nothing.  To help people with that inertia, I’ll be posting weekly Action Items – little steps that take an hour or less that will move you forward in the process and make itContinue Reading

Estate Planning Before, During and After Divorce

I was recently a guest on Divorce Talk Radio, is a weekly live radio show hosted by Stephanie Watson the Divorce Editor on BellaOnline.com. I talked about protecting yourself during divorce by making sure you have a properly prepared estate plan.  This includes making sure you have a valid health care proxy so that theContinue Reading

Surviving Divorce, The Road Ahead. A Two-Night Workshop.

PLEASE NOTE: THIS EVENT HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE. Surviving Divorce…The Road Ahead Workshop Legal, Financial and Credit/Debt advice for people who are divorced, divorcing or contemplating divorce March 3 and March 10, 2009, 6-8:30pmatBraintree Public LibraryBraintree, MAClick on the link below for detailsContinue Reading

Estate Planning and Divorce – Tips on Trusts for the Family Law Attorney

Many times in a divorce, one or both parties will be required to set up a trust to hold funds for the minor children’s college education.  I’ve been contacted by  divorce attorneys after the divorce to draft such trusts based on the language in the divorce agreement. Which was written by divorce attorneys. Not trustContinue Reading

Estate Planning and Divorce – Part 2: Post Divorce

See first post in the series here. You are nearing the end of your divorce, the final hearing or settlement is in sight.  The last thing you want to do is hire another attorney, write another check out of your bank account which may have taken quite a hit during the divorce.  But, you must. Continue Reading

Estate Planning and Divorce – Part 1

If you are separated from your spouse, filing for divorce, or even just contemplating it – you need more than just a divorce attorney.  You need to visit with an estate planning attorney to make some critical changes to your estate plan before and after the divorce.  This post will deal with changes than canContinue Reading