Share on Facebook
Share on X
Share on LinkedIn
By Jason Carrozza

Hi Everyone,

Happy Wednesday!!! After all of the snow we had during February, I feel as though I’m finally getting back on track. Between the constant re-scheduling and flooding, I’m very happy that spring is on the way and I very much welcome the change in season!

Speaking of change, this week we are discussing how to talk with your ex-spouse or partner about estate planning. Although you may no longer be in a relationship with your ex, if you have children together, it’s important that you raise the following concerns about their estate plan:

1. Are their beneficiary designations up to date? Not only do you want to ensure that all of your ex’s policies are current, it’s important that they do not list your minor children as the beneficiary. Remember, minors cannot inherit money! Talk to your ex about Trust Based Planning. Using a trust is an effective way to bypass probate and ensures that your children’s inheritance is properly managed without state intervention. Also, be sure that you are not named as a beneficiary or as a primary decision maker in their estate plan if that is a role you are no longer comfortable fulfilling. A change in relationship or family circumstance always triggers an estate plan review.
2. Have they named a guardian? If you are both dead, who will care for the children? This may be something that you two can still agree on. If not, be sure that your ex has a guardianship appointment. Otherwise, any family member has the opportunity to petition the court for guardianship. Multiple family members stepping forward at once creates additional chaos in the midst of tragedy.
3. Have they revised their estate plan after re-marriage? Routinely, I see children accidentally disinherited from one’s estate because of improper planning. Re-marriage complicates estate planning and can inadvertently devise all assets to a new spouse leaving nothing for the children. How your ex leaves their inheritance is ultimately their decision, but you want to be sure that their legacy is not a product of accident or oversight.

Remember, it’s important to remind your ex that you are not looking to control what they do with their estate. When it comes to the children you simply want things to be as smooth and as easy for them as possible. Creating a plan now can prevent a nightmare if something should happen to either of you in the future.

Until next time,

About the Author
Jason M. Carrozza is a partner and founder of Family Legal Partners, P.C., previously owning Carrozza Law Office, P.C., which focused on estate planning, probate administration, and business formation. He was recognized as a Massachusetts Rising Star by New England Super Lawyers and Boston Magazine in 2014, 2015, and 2016, an honor given to no more than 5% of attorneys in the state. Graduating magna cum laude from New England Law and ranked 3rd in his class, Jason completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Tampa. He gained experience in civil litigation, divorce, corporate, and insurance defense law firms before opening his practice in 2004. Jason is admitted to practice before the Massachusetts Courts, is a trained family law mediator, and a member of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation. He has volunteered for pro bono panels with Senior Partners For Justice, South Middlesex Legal Services, and the New Center for Legal Advocacy. Dedicated to his community, he has served in various leadership roles including vice president of the Bellingham Business Association and Master of Excelsior Lodge of Massachusetts Freemasons. He teaches Estate Planning Basics at the Tri County Continuing Adult Education program and speaks at estate planning seminars throughout the year. An avid baseball fan and history enthusiast, Jason enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with his family. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Katrina, and their children, Zachary and Madelyn.