We got hitched! Going to see a lawyer for a will. What to ask?
December 27, 2013 5:18 PM   Subscribe

A week ago today, my sweetheart and I got (gay) married in Utah! We're thrilled. We're going to see a lawyer familiar with gay rights issues that our friend recommended in the new year so we can draw up wills, etc. Here's the question: what is the etc? And any tips for input on wills?

What other things will the lawyer need to draw up for us? What questions should we ask him? What papers did you have legally drawn up when you got married? We're in new territory here and would love your input. Thanks!

PS: For those interested, our wedding day pics are here (we're 7-9).
posted by timpanogos to Law & Government (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

I've got some even more good news: your lawyer will probably ask you a lot of questions to cover all the bases, step-by-step.

Something to address may be any crossover into states that are still going to be stupid about recognizing your marriage -- moving, acquiring property elsewhere, etc. Hopefully that won't last for too much longer, but recognize that this might be new territory for your lawyer as well.

Be sure to execute powers of attorney regardless that you will be able to use if one of you has an accident while traveling to another state or country.

Also ask your attorney about intestate succession -- these are laws that govern the disposition of a person's property in the absence of a will. These might work just fine for you both while you're young with little property and no kids.

If anybody wants to change names, now might be a good time, if you didn't at the ceremony.

Make a list of all your titles (houses, cars, bank accounts, etc.) and, while your with your lawyer anyway just go down the list and put everything joint where you want it and rights-of-survivorship where you don't.

I didn't do any of this stuff when I was married, but I did a fair number of wills when I was a general practice lawyer.

Again, congratulations!

PS. Lovely picture -- scrolling through montages like that always tear me up. Yay for you two!
posted by mibo at 5:28 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Congratulations! I'd also see about getting a power of attorney document drawn up. My husband and I have power of attorney for each other and its been useful for some random things like getting the furnace serviced via the warranty when it was in his name or calling about a bill that's in his name when he isn't home (he travels with work a lot).
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 5:39 PM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Lawyer, if he's experience with Estate Planning, will generally take the lead on this. The advice is different depending on your assets. Do you own a home? Is it jointly owned or does belong to one of you separately? Do you have retirement accounts? Do you own a super rare piece of art? Do you have millions of dollars that you want to pass down to multiple generations with the least amount of tax burden possible? Estate Planning is incredibly fact specific. So talk to your lawyer and let them take the lead.

That being said, when I do an super basic estate plan for a married couple the process includes the following (IAAL, IANYL):
1) You will fill-out a complete financial questionnaire that gets reviewed with an attorney prior to drafting anything. This gives the lawyers an overview of the financial issues that might be at play and allows for proper advice.
2) A two-settlor family trust. Whether you need a trust depends on your specific circumstances. You might need a family trust. You might need two individual trusts. You might need multiple trusts. Your lawyer is the best person to determine this. You will most likely both be asked to sign a conflict of interest form since what be best for one of you may not be best for both of you.
3) Pour over wills for both of you that fund the trust with anything you forget to put in it while you were alive.
4) Power of Attorney for both of you.
5) Health Care Directives for both of you.
6) Trust transfer deeds to put any real property into the trust.
7) Instruction letter detailing how to change title to various types of accounts and property so that they are added to the trust.

The best thing you can do to prep for the initial meeting is to make a list of all your financial assets now. Account numbers? Ownership information? Insurance information? Real property? Valuable personal property? Get this all figured out now. Start thinking about what you would want to happen after your passing. Gifts to charity? Specifically disinhereit someone? Guardian for your kids if you have any? Have a general idea of what you want. The lawyer will let you know how to best achieve what you want.
posted by Arbac at 5:40 PM on December 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Check out get your shit together for some ideas.
posted by freezer cake at 5:41 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Power of attorney AND a MEDICAL power of attorney: do both (as well as the will), to, as noted above, cover yourselves in places that still don't recognize your marriage.

And congrats to both of you!
posted by easily confused at 6:01 PM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would definitely ask the lawyer about the implications of the Utah ruling being upheld vs overruled. Meaning, (a) if your marriage remains valid, what do you need to do and (b) if it is nullified (not super probable, in view of the prop 8 result, but still a likelihood), what do you need to do? In case B, likely you'd need to meet with the lawyer again to redraft documents in view of your new relationship to one another. What are the issues if you move to a state that does not recognize your marriage? How does that change your legal status? What happens in the interim between the federal ruling and, assuming it is upheld, the eventual evolution of Utah law to conform its language and procedures? This could be 5-10 years of time. If one of you dies during that time, how does that work; what are the potential issues and how do you protect yourself in the various scenarios?

For the standard wills/trusts/PoA stuff, the lawyer should be well-versed in the questions to ask you, so I would focus my questions on the same sex marriage nuances.
posted by melissasaurus at 7:03 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not only titles; bring along statements from insurance policies, retirement accounts, investments, etc. Most of those will offer a beneficiary designation or a transfer on death designation that takes them out of the control of a will or trust, and the lawyer will have recommendations for those as well.
posted by yclipse at 3:55 AM on December 28, 2013

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