Estate Planning Questions Lawyers Ask In Private

Most lawyers will explain to Alex, Jeremy’s father, why his son must wait in reception. Alex’s lawyer must meet with Alex alone so all information remains confidential.

Alex must be free to ask questions about his intentions and options without anyone else in the room.

The lawyer does this in private so Alex is comfortable raising any issues he has.

The lawyer must fully understand Alex’s wishes in preparing his will by asking questions to learn:

  • who is to be trusted as his executor
  • what property he has and how it is to be divided
  • who he wishes to receive his property
  • if there are valid reasons to disinherit anyone

If Alex made a dramatic change from his previous will, his reasons must also be recorded by his lawyer.

Though lawyers need not agree with Alex’s wishes, they have a duty to explain the law. They must assess if Alex’s reasons are legitimate and not imaginary or unduly influenced by someone putting pressure on him.

Making a Will – Avoiding Conflict of Interest

This is another issue that becomes a concern if Jeremy is present during his  father’s interview. No one should be there at the time when either will instructions are given, or when the will is signed.

The lawyer’s duty is to ensure no one who has an interest in the will or who could possibly influence any parent’s decisions is present.

The best way to demonstrate this is to show that the lawyer was instructed in private; no one else was present with a potential conflict of interest.

Since Jeremy may be a beneficiary under Alex’s will, the lawyer is actually protecting the son by asking him not to participate. Otherwise, Jeremy could end up in court trying to prove to a judge he did not influence his father to leave him a larger share of his estate.

What if Alex’s will is later challenged by someone who has a financial interest in his estate? Jeremy may be forced to prove in court that he did not manipulate his father.

That’s another reason for Jeremy to wait in the lawyer’s reception.