The divorces of ultra-high-net-worth couples like Bill and Melinda Gates, Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott, as well as John and Jenny Paulson, underscore the strong connection between domestic relations law and estate planning. Various issues can emerge during and after a divorce that affect clients’ finances, estate plans and progeny. It may get even more complicated if the clients don’t have prenuptial agreements or are involved with family philanthropic foundations. That’s why it’s important to properly plan for this possibility and to take certain steps when a client is going through a divorce. The articles in our Domestic Relations Committee Report advise practitioners on some of the important issues they need to address.
For example, after a divorce, one or both parties may be subject to increased tax liability. In “The SLAT Trap,” p. 46, by Catherine G. Schmidt, Sharon L. Klein and Annie L. Mehlman, the authors explain the income tax consequences of a spousal lifetime access trust in the event of divorce and provide drafting tips to avoid these consequences. And it’s not just taxes that can be affected. With advanced technology, couples may decide to store embryos or other genetic material to deal with possible infertility. What happens to these embryos in the event of a divorce? “Disposition of Embryos and Stored Genetic Material on Death and Divorce,” p. 53, by Alexis L. Cirel attempts to answer that question and offers tips for planning ahead to avoid future controversy. Finally, if clients are in the throes of a divorce, they may have some questions about steps they should be taking to protect their assets. In “The Impact of Divorce on Estate Planning and Wealth Management,” p. 50, by Nicole A. Kobis and Elizabeth Candido Petite, the authors list some common questions clients may have and provide the answers.
This month’s issue also contains our Review of Review Special Report. Our editorial advisory board members review articles dealing with empowering Black wealth, the formalities involved with revoking wills, the minimum contacts needed for state taxation of trust income, retirement planning, developments in case law surrounding Internal Revenue Code Section 2036 and fear of probate litigation.