Inheritance Considerations In Massachusetts Divorce
Under Massachusetts law, the court takes expected inheritance into consideration in dividing property in a contested divorce. This potentially subjects the parents of the divorcing parties to unwelcome scrutiny into the value of their assets and the nature of their estate plans. The use of a Vaughn affidavit affords the parents some confidentiality and dignity, while still providing the court with sufficient information for equitable distribution.
The Boston law firm of Cushing & Dolan, P.C., advises high net worth clients in all aspects of estate and tax planning, including preparation of Vaughn affidavits. We invite you to arrange a consultation to discuss your rights and obligations if you are divorcing, your child is divorcing or you are asked to produce a Vaughn affidavit under threat of subpoena.
Vaughn Affidavit In Divorce
The Vaughn affidavit is a compromise recognized by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, dating to a 1990 divorce case. Instead of forcing parents to identify specific holdings and divulge confidential documents, they can substitute a sworn affidavit that summarizes:
- The approximate value of the estate, within $500,000
- A general description of the estate plan, namely bequests to the divorcing party
- The date that a will and trusts in question were amended
Assets held in trust are not exempt from Vaughn disclosure. Parents may balk at the intrusion, but if they fail to produce a Vaughn affidavit, the court could hold them in contempt and compel them to reveal much more. In addition to preserving privacy, the affidavit also streamlines the divorce process.
Future Inheritances During Divorce
Spouses have no claim on the other’s inheritance, but that expected inheritance comes into play when determining alimony and other aspects of asset division and debt division. Our experienced attorneys can answer any questions you have, and prepare or review a Vaughn affidavit.