Representing Spouses

June 7, 2012 Hull & Hull LLP Estate Planning Tags:
Representing both spouses in estate planning can be complex. The nature of the retainer with the spouses should be explained clearly to both of them.  You may be asked to prepare mirror wills that provide for all of each spouse’s assets to pass to the other, and that are identical in all respects. 
 
If one spouse later comes to you and asks you to change his or her will, it could cause you to have a conflict of interest that violates Rules 2.03(1) and 2.04(1) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.  To prevent this problem, you could plan with both spouses in advance of drafting the will for the possibility of one spouse changing his or her will.  Rather than sending one of the spouses to another lawyer, you can represent both clients if they plan for the possibility by explaining the nature of a joint retainer or drafting an agreement that neither spouse will change their wills without the other spouse’s consent. 
 
Holly LeValliant

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