When their child is getting divorced in Massachusetts, most parents are appalled to to learn that Massachusetts, unlike other states, allows the court to consider the future inheritance of a divorcing spouse when determining how to divide the marital estate. Although a future expectancy of an inheritance is not divisible in a divorce, "the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income: is one factor, among many, that the court weighs in the process of equitable distribution.
In order to determine a party's opportunity to acquire assets and income in the future, it is common for parents and even grandparents or aunts/uncles to be asked to provide information regarding their estate plan and their net worth in the context of their child's divorce.
Often, when the parents learn they must produce this information, they are outraged; their child may not even know what their estate plan provides or what they're worth, and now they need to turn this information over to their soon to be ex-daughter or son-in-law.
What about their right to privacy?
To balance one spouse's right to know about his spouse's opportunity to acquire future capital assets and income against the parents' right to keep their estate plan and their personal documents confidential, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has created a compromise - the Vaughan Affidavit.
Rather than subjecting the parents to document production and a deposition, the parents may prepare a Vaughan Affidavit providing the following information:
- their approximate total net worth;
- a general description of their current estate plan and wills, and
- the date, if any, when their estate plans and wills were last amended.
A Vaughan Affidavit can be a useful tool in determining how the parties' assets should be divided.
The Law Office of Renee Lazar has been confronted with this issue many times in the representation of divorce clients.
If you are thinking about divorce, are in the process of divorce or are the parents of a divorcing child, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.