Sunday, August 31, 2008

Confidence Builder 

So, I had been working on transitioning to in house legal work for the privately held software company where I am currently a project manager. Things had been going well, and I had done several legal projects earlier in the year. Then a very large, public corporation acquired the place. And they only take on attorneys with at least five years of experience. Time to rethink everything. Again.

Plan B: continue on in the current job for the steady income, benefits, etc. but start doing my own thing on my own time. I've decided on wills and estate planning as a focus, as it's not likely to have any scheduling issues with the company work.

Yesterday The Girl and I were at a party at a friend's fabulous house overlooking the ocean, and another of our friends was there, who practices family law - mostly divorces. We were chatting, and she mentioned that she does do a will now and then for one of her clients if they ask, since divorce revokes the will.

I paused, mentally reviewing my recall of the Massachusetts General Laws as they pertain to wills and the impact of marriage and divorce. I also pause to make sure I don't come across as too argumentative or upstart-ish, given that she's been practicing for 23 years and is someone I respect very much. Finally (okay, this process only took a few seconds), I politely countered that I'm pretty sure in Massachusetts that while marriage revokes a will (in my head, I also added "unless the will specifically states that it is made in contemplation of marriage"), divorce only revokes those portions of the will regarding any bequests to or appointments of the spouse. She insisted equally firmly but politely that in Massachusetts there is a statute that specifies that divorce revokes a will. We agreed to disagree and to look it up. The Girl was quite proud of my graceful exit (I can be a little stubborn when I get on a roll...). She also said that she could tell when I was reviewing my brain database for the information, and that I did it at some other point in the party as well.

Of course before we went to sleep last night, I had to go online and look it up. M.G.L. Title II, Chapter 191, Section 9. You can click over and read the whole thing, but the relevant clause is, "If, after executing a will, the testator shall be divorced or his marriage shall be annulled, the divorce or annulment shall revoke any disposition or appointment of property made by the will to the former spouse, any provision conferring a general or special power of appointment on the former spouse, and any nomination of the former spouse, as executor, trustee, conservator or guardian, unless the will shall expressly provide otherwise."

I'm feeling more comfortable that I've made a good choice. That same friend did give me some very helpful information - a friend of hers is a school teacher and does wills and uncontested divorces on her own time, and has "moonlight malpractice" insurance. It's for attorneys who are doing this part-time, in nonlitigation settings, and is a lot less than the full blown insurance. That was another headache looming over me.

This all seems much more doable today than it did early yesterday.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:59 AM