Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Do The Math...

Will + Marriage or Divorce = Catastrophe!

Did you know?

1. If you write a will and then get married, your will is effectively revoked by operation of law in Massachusetts, unless you write it specifically with the upcoming marriage in mind.

2. Divorce or annulment has the effect of invalidating any bequests to the former spouse, causing property to pass as if that former spouse predeceased you.

Sounds good, but this makes it possible for minor children to inherit all of a parent’s assets, without oversight or restraint. That’s okay, your teenagers will appreciate having all that money left to them, and I’m sure they’ll use it responsibly!

I once worked on a case in which a man died, and his wife sued his estate.
She was his second wife.
He had not provided for her in a new will, and had in fact left trusts for the benefit of only his children. Under Massachusetts Law, his wife was entitled to a share, and sued the estate the claim it.
This sort of thing causes all sorts of bad blood between family members, and I can’t imagine that the husband would have wanted his wife and his children, their stepmother, to be fighting over his assets.

It’s important to take a look at your estate plan (you do have one, right?) whenever there is a major life event, such as birth, marriage, separation, divorce, death, or major illness that could require long term care, etc.

Plan for yourself, or the courts will be happy to do it for you!