Although, spouses generally have no claim on the other’s inheritance, that expected inheritance comes into play when determining alimony and other aspects of asset division and debt division. Under Massachusetts law, the court takes expected inheritance into consideration in dividing property in a contested divorce. This potentially subjects the parents of the divorcing parties to unwelcome scrutiny into the value of their assets and the nature of their estate plans. The use of a Vaughn affidavit affords the parents some confidentiality and dignity, while still providing the court with sufficient information.
The Vaughn affidavit is a compromise recognized by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Instead of forcing parents to identify specific holdings and divulge confidential documents, they can substitute a sworn affidavit that summarizes the approximate value of the estate, a general description of the estate plan, and the date that a will and trusts in question were amended.
Assets held in trust are not exempt from Vaughn disclosure. For failure to produce a Vaughn affidavit, the court could hold you in contempt and compel you to reveal much more. In addition to preserving privacy, the affidavit also streamlines the divorce process.