Lynne Abe discusses our new In office meeting procedures for our Smart Counsel for Lunch Series. Please watch and if you have any questions or want to learn more please call us at 781 461-1020.
Among the tales of unfortunate fall-out from COVID-19 are those I hear from my family law colleagues about the number of couples deciding to divorce. Not surprisingly, three months of home confinement with your spouse will bring some clarity to how compatible two people really are. For those who are going through a divorce or divorce mediation, or those advising them, it is important not to lose sight of the importance of an up-to-date estate plan amidst the emotional and legal challenges a divorce brings.
During divorce proceedings, an automatic restraining order applies that prohibits either spouse from selling or transferring assets or changing the beneficiary on life insurance and retirement accounts except as permitted by Court order or agreement of the other party. Although asset ownership and beneficiary changes may not be made until after the divorce judgment issues, an important interim step for divorcing parties is to create updated Powers of Attorney for legal and financial decision-making, and Health Care Proxies for health care decision-making, so that a trusted individual, and not an estranged spouse, will make those types of decisions in the event of incapacity during the pendency of the divorce.
The law does provide some assistance in “modifying” an estate plan after divorce, although the result may not be what the divorced person intends. In Massachusetts by law, a divorce judgment revokes any disposition of property to the divorced person’s former spouse, including trust provisions, beneficiary designations as to life insurance and retirement plans, transfer-on-death accounts, and any other revocable disposition. If estate plan documents named the former spouse or family members of the former spouse as a fiduciary – such as a Personal Representative (formerly Executor) or Trustee – those designations are treated as if the former spouse predeceased the divorced person. Although these provisions may seem to do the trick, in reality they can wreak havoc on an estate plan and create unintended consequences. In addition, in the event a divorced person intends to benefit their former spouse with life insurance or some other asset, steps must be taken to ensure that designation will stick after the divorce occurs.
Once a divorce is final, each party should review their existing estate plan and beneficiary designations with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, and make any changes that may be necessary. For example, for a couple with young children, a Trust may be appropriate to manage a divorced parent’s assets for the benefit of those children if that parent were to pass away during a child’s minority. Naming someone that a parent trusts to manage and apply the Trust assets appropriately for the minor children is of the utmost importance for a single parent. If a Trust is not created, the children’s guardian/conservator will have responsibility for managing any assets inherited by the children, and that person is likely to be the children’s surviving parent. For most divorced couples, the idea that a former spouse will have control over the inheritance left to the children is unsettling and inconsistent with their intentions. An estate plan that addresses divorce-related issues can ensure this does not happen, and that the divorced parent’s wishes will be carried out.
And let’s not forget that many divorced people go on to find love again. Estate planning for blended families is just as important. Re-marriage brings its own set of estate planning challenges, especially if the parties have children from prior marriages or relationships. In such a case, good estate planning is crucial to ensure that if one member of the new couple dies, his or her children from a prior marriage will be provided for appropriately, while the new spouse or partner is also provided for if they do not have sufficient means of their own. It is unfortunate when all of a parent’s assets pass to the new spouse, who then leaves them to his or her own children or family members at death, leaving the deceased’s children with nothing.
Whether divorce is a sad event or a welcome new beginning – or maybe both – estate planning is more important than ever during and after a divorce, to avoid unintended results and ensure children and other family members will benefit as you intend.
Attorney Suzanne Sayward talks about how The CARES Act impacts retirement account withdrawals in 2020, for our new Smart Counsel for Lunch Series. Please watch and if you have questions or want to learn more please call us at 781 461-1020.
Smart Counsel for lunch presents Attorney Suzanne Sayward thanking everyone for watching and responding to our video series.
Attorney Suzanne Sayward discusses the difference between a Will and a Trust for our Smart Counsel for Lunch Series. Please watch and if you have any questions or want to learn more please call us at 781 461-1020.
Smart Counsel Series
What You Should Know About Your Retirement Accounts and the SECURE Act
To our Clients and Friends:
Please join us virtually for the next presentation in our Smart Counsel Series to learn What You Should Know About Your Retirement Accounts and the SECURE Act.
In a first for our Smart Counsel Series, this presentation will be done in two parts, both via recorded webinar that you may view at your leisure.
Part One – SECURE Act Webinar
In the Part One webinar, Attorneys Julia Abbott and Abigail Poole will take you through the basics of the SECURE Act and how you might be affected. Click on the image below to watch the full webinar now.
The SECURE (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) Act took effect on January 1, 2020, and is the most significant legislation impacting retirement accounts in decades. The Act makes changes that affect distributions from retirement accounts during the lifetime of the account owner, and significantly impacts the way non-spouse beneficiaries must take distributions from inherited retirement accounts following the death of the account owner. An understanding of the SECURE Act’s provisions is crucial for anyone with significant assets in an IRA, 401k, 403b or other qualified retirement account, especially if you have one or more Trusts as part of your estate plan.
Please view this webinar from the comfort of your home to learn about:
The provisions of the SECURE Act that impact account owners during their lifetimes.
The changes to the rules regarding distributions from inherited retirement accounts and how they will impact your beneficiaries and estate plan.
Possible strategies to address the adverse impact of these changes, including updating your Trust provisions, Roth IRA conversions, charitable donations, trust strategies, and more.
As an added bonus, don’t miss this opportunity to meet Attorney Julia Abbott, who has recently joined the firm as a partner.
Part Two – Q&A Webinar
Part Two is a follow-up to the SECURE Act Webinar during which Attorneys Abbott and Poole will answer all your questions about the SECURE Act, which we invite you to submit via email. After watching Part One, send your questions to Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm on Thursday, May 28th. We will email the link to the Part Two webinar answering your questions in early June.
Suzanne R. Sayward
Maria C. Baler
Julia K. Abbott
Abigail V. Poole
Attorney Julia Abbott discusses Gifting for our Smart Counsel for Lunch Series. Please watch and if you have any questions or want to learn more please call us at 781 461-1020.
Attorney Suzanne Sayward talks about Life Estates for our new Smart Counsel for Lunch Series. What are life estates and why might you want one? Please watch and if you have questions or want to learn more please call us at 781 461-1020.
Paralegal Mackenzie Sayward, discusses a deed scam going around for our Smart Counsel for Lunch Series. Have your received a letter telling you to pay for a copy of your deed? Then this is a scam. Watch to learn more and If you have questions please call us and let us know at 781 461-1020