We spend a lot of time helping people plan for their future. The ‘future’ can mean so many things to people. Buying a new home? We’re here for you. Adopting a child, getting married or divorced? We can help you with those transitions too. Thinking about what happens if you were to become cognitively impaired or pass away? We are happy to discuss if we can help with those life events.
One of the things that we don’t typically address during estate planning consultations is what happens with your social media accounts after you die. We often will suggest to people that they update a list accounts and passwords regularly so that their Personal Representative, Health Care Proxy or Power of Attorney will have access to important records; however, we don’t know if people think to give passwords to their social media accounts or just the more traditional accounts, like savings, checking and investments.
With so many people documenting their lives on social media, these platforms have become personal documentaries. What happens when you are no longer alive? Unfortunately, your account can be locked and memories are instantly gone.
We of know a lovely widow who way spent too much time after tragically losing her husband fighting to have access to and preserve his social media page. Without it, she would lose so many memories, stories and photos. This should be the last thing that anyone should have to worry about after losing someone, but those memories become all that more important when the person is gone.
By contrast, we have a friend who passed away approximately 10 years ago. Her account is seemingly being maintained by her husband.
Every year, on her anniversary, her friends and family can post photos of their ice cream tribute to her. It’s a nice way for everyone to connect, also letting her husband and children know that she is remembered (and they are thought of also). It may seem silly to see so many ice creams,
but for anyone who has lost a loved one it’s actually quite meaningful to know that they are all thought of on an otherwise typical day on the calendar.
Did you know that you can protect your accounts in less than five (5) minutes? Most social media platforms offer a legacy or memorialization option. It takes moments of playing around with the settings area on the site or app but creates an opportunity for someone to manage your account.
Yes, that is a very lawyerly answer that we give so often and under so many circumstances; however, we cannot, as lawyers, tell someone whether to identify as a male or female.
People recently highlighted a family with a six year old transgender daughter. The parents made the choice to allow their child, who was assigned male at birth, to fully transition to a female at the age of four. Although it was surprising to read about a child who had transitioned so young, it is not shocking that a child of that age made it clear to their parents who they were and how they identify.
Transgender laws are developing. Many of the current laws specific to the transgender community involve civil rights, but others include change of name and hate crimes. We expect that many other areas of law will continue to evolve and change as well.
Some resources that might be useful:
We are going on a limb with this one: Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen likely have a prenuptial agreement. We haven’t seen it, but hopefully, he made provisions for him to retain all of his Super Bowl rings and his MVP trophies if their marriage ends.
If at the time of the marriage, Brady disclosed that he owns three Super Bowl rings and a couple of trophies, but didn’t make provisions for the future? In that case, his wife may have a claim for rings and trophies for the fourth and fifth as marital assets. OUCH (especially for number five).
We love prenuptials for average couples because they create an opportunity for them to have uncomfortable conversations about their priorities and financial future. Have you been married before? Do you have children? Do you have some savings or a home? If the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” then a prenuptial is an important legal protection for you.
Protections typically include division of property, alimony, debt, life insurance, health insurance, and what financial support children from a prior relationship might get during the marriage or when the parent dies. In order for a prenuptial to be valid, the following conditions must be met:
- Both parties must make full disclosure of all assets and liabilities;
- The agreement must be fair and reasonable at the time entered into by the parties;
- Both parties must be represented by counsel;
- Both parties must sign the document prior to the wedding;
- Both parties must sign the document of their own free will;
- Both parties must have the capacity or ability to sign the document; and
- The agreement must also be fair and reasonable at the time of divorce.
Given the second look at the time of divorce, it would be unlikely that our GOAT would lose his fourth and fifth rings if they were not protected in a prenuptial. That would just be unfair and unreasonable, wouldn’t it?
On to SIX!
Thank you to everyone for your amazing feedback on the last newsletter! Since it was sent last week, I have received a handful of questions about how inheritances are divided during a divorce.
Inheritances may be subject to division if they are received either before or during the marriage unless there are terms in a pre-nuptial agreement specific to this situation. In my experience, this is often one of the most emotionally charged areas of contention, slightly behind child custody. Not surprisingly, the person who received the inheritance typically feels entitled to keep the entire thing; on the other side, their spouse often feels entitled to at least some portion of the inheritance.
Generally speaking, Judges consider when the money was inherited and how it was used during the marriage. In doing so, the Court looks at the length of the marriage, when the inheritance was received, whether it was used to maintain a standard of living or kept separate, and the value of the funds, relative to the other marital assets.
If there is an expectation that one person will inherit something, the spouse has no right to division of future inheritance. In most cases, a person cannot rely upon an inheritance until the Grantor or Trustee actually dies. However, the judge may consider the expected inheritance in determining the future needs of the spouse, which could affect the settlement that the spouse receives; however, the impact of a potential future inheritance usually small, because, again, there is not typically an irrevocable document in existence.
Some very simple, contrasting examples to demonstrate how a Court might analyze whether an inheritance should be divided:
1. A woman inherits $10,000 from her grandmother just before she is married. She immediately uses that money towards the purchase of a house and lives in that home with her husband. Fifteen years later, they file for divorce. In this case, she is unlikely to keep the full value of her inheritance.
2. A woman inherits the $10,000 from her grandmother just after she is married. She never co-mingles the money and doesn’t use it towards expenses or luxuries during the marriage. They file for divorce six months after their wedding. In this case, she is more likely to retain the full value of her inheritance.
3. A woman has knowledge that her grandmother has made a $10,000.00 gift for her in her Last Will and Testament. Fortunately for her, her grandmother is still alive. If she gets a divorce now, her spouse no right to any portion of the inheritance.
As always, if you have any questions regarding this topic, or any other, please feel free to contact me for more information.
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