If You Voted The Couple Would Choose Lawyer A…

Because friends recommended Lawyer A, the price seems reasonable, and the office location is convenient, the couple schedules a meeting. At the meeting later that week, Lawyer A asks them for some basic, personal information, which does not include their financial information. Lawyer A then asks whom the couple wants to name as Executor and as Guardian of their minor children in their Wills. The couple is not sure whom to choose and asks for some guidance. Lawyer A replies that they should ideally choose a Massachusetts lawyer as Executor and if not, then at least someone local with good financial sense, not necessarily a family member. For Guardians, Lawyer A says it is a personal decision for them to decide.

The couple does not know a Massachusetts lawyer they could name as Executor other than asking Lawyer A, which does not feel right. The couple is concerned about their local family members’ financial savvy and about how far away other family members live. The couple is also surprised to discover that they have fundamentally conflicting views about whom to name as Guardians for their children. They feel embarrassed to be having a highly personal, marital disagreement, in front of a virtual stranger who seems less than sympathetic. At this point, the couple asks for some time to think through these matters better before proceeding.

The couple goes home and disagrees passionately about their choice of guardians for their children, without the benefit of any real guidance. They also feel stuck about choosing an executor for their estate. They choose to allow the more urgent matters in their life (upcoming vacation, birthday parties, and such) to take precedence over the more important, and make no decisions.

Two weeks go by and the couple receives an email from Lawyer A saying their documents are ready to sign just as soon as the couple provides the names for the executor and guardian. A few more weeks go by the same way. Finally, the wife decides to agree to her husband’s choice of guardian and they both agree upon an executor even though neither of them feels confident or good about it. They just wanted to get it over with and have something in place. They inform Lawyer A and schedule a time to sign the documents at the office.

That Friday, the couple sits around Lawyer A’s conference table to sign their Wills, Powers of Attorneys, and Living Wills, feeling rushed and unable to really review the documents in any detail. They do catch a few minor errors, like the spelling of the wife’s name, which Lawyer A quickly has a secretary fix and reprint in the other room. Lawyer A does not explain the documents, but instructs the couple where to sign, which they do, along with some witnesses. The whole process feels incredibly awkward and unsettling. After receiving copies of their documents, the couple writes a check out to Lawyer A and leaves. They go home and put the documents in a pile with mail and kids’ artwork on the counter to deal with later.

Saturday is “date night” and when the babysitter arrives, the couple heads out for dinner and drinks with friends. On their way home, a drunk driver strikes their car directly. Stay tuned for what happens next . . .


About Danielle G. Van Ess

Danielle G. Van Ess is a Massachusetts (born and raised), experienced estate planning and small business attorney who helps her clients protect and preserve what matters most to them. To learn more, please visit: dgvelaw.com or call: 781-740-0848