My husband and I wanted to get our affairs sorted out, particularly wills and we had vague thoughts that we might need something to do with the matrimonial property act. It is not the first marriage for either of us. I have assets and no children. He has children and no assets, and had no will. We had an informal agreement between us that my assets should remain my assets after his death. We were aware that his children could make a claim against my assets as we have been together for a decade or more.
What we wanted:
Our main aim was to arrange things so that our wishes were clear and were carried out after the death of either of us, and to limit the risk of family interference or claims.
Finding a lawyer:
A friend had just been through a traumatic time involving her step-family when her parent died without having formalised their paperwork. This was an object lesson for us. After poor advice from one lawyer, she finally found someone who was good to work with and seemed knowledgeable, so we asked for his contact details and made an appointment to see him and discuss our situation.
How it went:
It went very well. At the first meeting we were able to describe our situation, and what we wanted to achieve. The lawyer described various options, with the pros and cons, and we were able to talk our way through them, the ramifications etc. and refine our ideas. During this process he became privy to a significant amount information about family dynamics – and didn’t bat an eyelid. He remained focused on the things that would have an impact on our desired outcome. We ended up with a suite of documentation that we were confident reflected our wishes, which included protecting the other one in the event of one of us dying.
For us, the really good things about this experience were: that we were listened to, our situation was fully understood, we were offered options, pros and cons were described, and we felt the lawyer empowered us to make a good informed choice about how to set up our affairs.