On April 5, 2016, the collective eyes of Massachusetts divorce attorneys and estate planners were fixed on the Supreme Judicial Court, where the highly-anticipated oral arguments on “further appellate review” of Pfannenstiehl v. Pfannenstiehl took place.

The 2015 Appeals Court decision received national attention for its potential detrimental impact on the estate planning goals of families who desire to shield trust assets from divorce claims. In Pfannenstiehl, both the Trial Court and the Appeals Court went to great lengths to ensure that the wife would benefit, at least indirectly, from an irrevocable trust established by her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s father even though the husband had no control over the trust and could receive distributions only at the discretion of the trustees. The husband had no present, guaranteed, enforceable interest to receive or use assets or income from the trust. The trustees’ discretion was limited to making distributions under an “ascertainable standard” for a beneficiary’s health, education, maintenance and support. The Trial Court and Appeals Court decisions failed to account for the fact that the trustees did not make distributions to the husband for most of the marriage, and that the husband received distributions only during the final two years of … Keep reading

to do list estate plan
To do: Create or update your estate plan!

Hi there,

I just learned that this is National Estate Planning Awareness Week. One of our terrific attorneys, Christine Fletcher, has written a quick piece explaining the importance of having your estate planner working on a team with your other “people” when making financial decisions. Some may consider this a dry or morbid topic, but in reality it’s a hugely important one. Post-divorce, everyone should immediately change their will, change the beneficiaries on their retirement accounts and, if you haven’t already, change your health care proxies and durable powers of attorney.… Keep reading

Hi There!

I can’t believe October is almost over already!  The weeks are flying by.

The issue of trust is often a “hot potato” in divorce proceedings.  We have all heard that relationships that are based on lies are doomed, but still many (most?) married couples would likely admit to telling little fibs, or “white lies” to their spouses.  So does that mean that lying to your spouse is okay as long as it isn’t a “big lie,” or is a lie a lie no matter how big or small?  Daniel Clement’s New York Divorce Blog addresses this issue in a recent post, “Lies: Good or Bad for a Marriage?”

In case you didn’t know, the authors of the best selling book “Freakonomics” also have a blog by the same name.  A recent post had some interesting data on marriage(s) which caught my eye, and I thought I would share it with you.

The Balloon Boy story is still full of hot air (sorry couldn’t help myself).


Nancy… Keep reading