Lawyers owe clients a duty of confidentiality. This means that when I have a couple as an estate planning client, I must keep all secrets shared with me from third parties, but I must also expose the secrets shared with me by one spouse to the other. All of my clients have heard my talk about “secret babies” and “the money under the floorboards” and to date no one has accidentally spilled any beans that I had to later disclose.
Given the upsurge in the use of common law and corporate law to force asset distributions among unmarried couples, it is not unlikely that a “third party” love interest might come forward and make financial demands, either during or after the lifetime of their lover.
This recent article by Forbes writer Russ Alan Prince, Yes, Advisors, You Must Plan for Your Clients’ Extramarital Affairs, reminded me that an estate planning attorney’s job is to build trust with their client in order to help them mitigate all of life’s risks. Your attorney should ask you about your family, about who you love and trust and who or what makes you nervous. You might not want to answer fully in front of your partner or spouse, but that does not mean that those issues will disappear.
If you have issues that you do not want to discuss with your spouse, from the distribution of separate property assets to extramarital affairs or children outside the union, please contact an estate planning attorney to address these issue and mitigate the risks, both financial and to family harmony, associated with them.Published in