Death has a way of bringing all your skeletons out of the closet where you’ve kept them carefully hidden for years. You may want to ignore certain phases of your life, pretend that they didn’t happen, or hope that no one ever finds out. However, when it comes to estate planning, everything needs to come out into the open— at least in your lawyer’s office.
What Could Happen?
Suppose you suffer an accident and are paralyzed or put into a coma? At some point, someone has to dig into your finances, pay your bills, and investigate your personal life. Make sure that it’s someone you trust, someone whom you have chosen, and not a random person appointed by the court.
Imagine a single mother who dies without disclosing to anyone that she has more children from a previous marriage. Suppose the woman’s adult children, which she has kept a secret, come into the picture after her death and request something from her estate? Not only does such a situation cause acute emotional stress to everyone concerned, it also throws the family into confusion since the woman had no clear-cut estate plan.
Perhaps a man had multiple partners during his younger years, and discovers a decade later than he fathered a child? He can face the complex family situation now and make arrangements for the future with his attorney, or he can hush up the matter and leave everyone else to deal with the resulting drama after his death.
Your secrets may not be as dramatic as these examples, but you probably have a few things to tell your Maryland lawyer when you make your estate plan. Whether it’s about the questionable source of some income, a love child that you want to acknowledge in your will, or a painful family event that forces you to cut someone from the will, trust your attorney to advise you about ways to delicately handle the situation.
Estate planning lawyers also need to know details about your current relationship status. They’re not being nosy; they legitimately need to find out whether you are single, in a civil union, married to someone of the same sex, or in some other sort of domestic partnership. Perhaps you have more than one ongoing relationship. Are you sure that your divorce is final or that your marriage is legal? Your lawyer can double-check for you so that there are no surprises for your heirs after your decease.
A Helping Hand
Your estate planning attorney is not a mind-reader. Unless you lay out all the facts, your lawyer cannot adequately advise you for your future. You may be uncomfortable, even ashamed, of some of the things that you have to divulge; but rest assured that your lawyer is not there to judge you. She is simply there to help you sort out the tricky parts of your life, establish your wishes for the future, and make it all legal and binding. With a professional’s help and a complete estate plan, you’ll feel a sense of true relief from the shadows of the past.
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Discover 5 easy ways to make sure your children, wishes and assets stay protected should something happen to you (including tips for a living will)
About Nicole K. White
After losing a close relative, Nicole witnessed the devastation, enormous expense and chaos caused by not having a simple estate plan. It is Nicole’s mission to educate parents, especially single parents, about protecting themselves, their families, minor children, and assets with comprehensive Estate Planning.