Question from sd, What happens if a will in Massachusetts conflicts with a divorce agreement and the person remarries?
Answer from AI:
In Massachusetts, a will generally cannot override a divorce agreement. If a person’s will conflicts with the terms of their divorce agreement, the courts will typically enforce the divorce agreement. However, the situation can become complex if the person remarries, commingles their assets with a new spouse, and leaves a will giving all assets to the second spouse, in violation of the divorce agreement.
Understanding Divorce Agreements and Wills
In Massachusetts, a divorce agreement is a legally binding contract that outlines the terms of a divorce, including property division, child custody, and spousal support. A will, on the other hand, is a legal document that outlines how a person’s assets should be distributed after their death.
According to Massachusetts law, if a person’s will conflicts with the terms of their divorce agreement, the courts will typically enforce the divorce agreement. This is because a divorce agreement is a contract that both parties have agreed to, while a will is a unilateral document that can be changed at any time before the person’s death.
Remarriage and Commingling of Assets
If a person remarries and commingles their assets with a new spouse, creating a tenancy by the entirety, this can complicate matters. A tenancy by the entirety is a form of property ownership that is only available to married couples. It provides each spouse with an equal interest in the property and includes a right of survivorship, meaning that if one spouse dies, the surviving spouse automatically inherits the deceased spouse’s interest in the property.
However, even if a person creates a tenancy by the entirety with a new spouse, this does not necessarily mean that they can disregard the terms of their divorce agreement. If the divorce agreement specifies that certain assets should go to the children from the first marriage, the courts may still enforce this provision, regardless of the tenancy by the entirety.
Violation of Divorce Agreement
If a person intentionally violates the terms of their divorce agreement, this can have serious legal consequences. For example, if the divorce agreement specifies that the children from the first marriage are to be the primary beneficiaries of the person’s life insurance policies and that one half of the person’s residuary estate is to go to these children, the person cannot simply ignore these provisions and leave everything to their new spouse.
In such cases, the courts may decide to enforce the terms of the divorce agreement and disregard the provisions of the will that conflict with the agreement. However, this is a complex area of law and the outcome can depend on many factors, including the specific terms of the divorce agreement and the circumstances of the remarriage and commingling of assets.
It is strongly recommended that individuals in this situation consult with a legal professional for personalized advice. Legal professionals can provide guidance on how to navigate these complex issues and can help ensure that a person’s wishes are carried out in accordance with the law.