Divorcing Massachusetts couples may want to know if their soon to be ex-spouse will be the beneficiary of an inheritance post divorce. In Massachusetts, unlike almost any other state, the Judge, when determining the division of the estates of two divorcing parties, must take into consideration “the opportunity of each [party] for future acquisition of capital assets and income.” – Mass. General Laws, c. 208, § 34.
This creates an awkward situation, where testators who are not parties themselves to the divorce or settlers of trusts may not want to divulge the extent of their assets. This was precisely the situation in Allan and Elizabeth Vaughan’s 1990 divorce. What has come to be known as the Vaughan Affidavit was a compromise between Elizabeth Vaughan’s right to know about her spouse’s likelihood of acquisition of future capital assets and Allan Vaughan’s parents’ right to keep their estate plan and personal records confidential.
The Court allowed the Vaughan parents to prepare an affidavit with information limited to “(1) their approximate current total net worth (plus or minus $500,000), (2) a general description of their current estate plan and wills, and (3) the date, if any, when the estate plan or wills were last amended.” Since the Vaughan case was decided, others have used similar Vaughan Affidavits.
Assets held in trust are not exempt from Vaughn disclosure. For failure to produce a Vaughn affidavit, the court could hold you in contempt and compel you to reveal much more. In addition to preserving privacy, the affidavit also streamlines the divorce process.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.