Contract To Plan Services Provided by Compassionate Attorneys in Cape Cod and Throughout Southern Massachusetts
Oftentimes, children become disinherited even though the parents thought they had appropriate wills and trusts in place.
If a married couple’s assets pass outright to the surviving spouse without any agreement in place to stop that, the surviving spouse can leave not only his or her own assets, but also the deceased spouse’s assets, to any person of their choice, even those who are not family members of the deceased spouse. Therefore, children can end up being intentionally or unintentionally disinherited.
The “Contract to Plan” is a separate document that can be used to address such a problem. It establishes agreed-upon rules if a surviving spouse changes his or her estate plan, or at least attempts to disinherit the children of the first to die. Not only can this document be useful for couples in a second marriage, but also for couples who have common children and are concerned that the survivor might remarry and leave most of their estate to a new spouse.
How Does a Contract To Plan Work?
Based on Massachusetts law MGL ch 190B § 2-514, which provides statutory authority to use a contract to plan, the document provides couples with greater flexibility and assurance that all of the children will be entitled to at least a portion of the survivor’s estate. A well-drafted Contract to Plan can cover items such as non-probate assets and gifts attempting to defeat the couple’s joint intent.
This is an instrument that allows families to plan for future situations in which a surviving spouse may choose to remarry, resulting in a blended family. It can establish guidelines to ensure that children of the deceased spouse will still be entitled to a percentage of the estate upon the death of the surviving spouse and will not end up disinherited. Percentages of the estate left to each of the children does not have to be equal. A couple may choose any percentage they can agree upon, and determine this percentage will go to the children of the first spouse to die.
The Contract To Plan does not make changes to percentages stated in the couple’s existing wills, but it allows the survivor to make changes later on, as long as those changes do not violate the stated percentages allocated to be passed on to the children of the first spouse to die. Many first marriage couples find it acceptable to leave up to 80% of their estate to their children.
Why Should I Consider adding a Contract To Plan to My Estate Plans?
With an increased life expectancy in the country, second marriages and blended families are becoming increasingly more common. Changes in family dynamics may sometimes cause the surviving spouse to want to favor their new spouse or any children from a second marriage when it comes to passing on wealth.
A Contract To Plan offers families the desired flexibility together with a moral and legal commitment not to disinherit a deceased spouse’s children. Because it is an enforceable legal document, it often serves as a bigger motivation for parties to comply with it, rather than a simple verbal agreement. Contract To Plans can play a vital role in protecting the ultimate beneficiaries of your estate. This technique can benefit couples with children from prior marriages as well as couples in their only marriage.
What Are the Steps I Should Take to Add a Contract To Plan to My Estate Plans?
Unfortunately, many Massachusetts attorneys are not yet familiar with this relatively new tool for estate planning, as it was recently added through the new Uniform Probate Code. Contract To Plans are also a somewhat non-traditional planning technique. However, this planning document can be beneficial to both traditional and blended families, and it can be a cost-effective solution to provide the surviving spouse with maximum control and flexibility and protecting children from being disinherited upon the death of the surviving spouse.
A Contract to Plan will not replace the need for a properly drafted will or revocable trust as estate planning measures, but will simply complement it. The Law Offices of Boyd & Boyd can offer you complete guidance and information to help you decide if a Contract to Plan is right for you, and can help you take the necessary steps to add one to your current estate plans.
Call us at (508) 775-7800 and request a free initial estate planning consultation to explore this option.