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  • PART II REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY AND DOMESTIC RELATIONS
  • TITLE II DESCENT AND DISTRIBUTION, WILLS, ESTATES OF DECEASED PERSONS AND ABSENTEES, GUARDIANSHIP, CONSERVATORSHIP AND TRUSTS
  • CHAPTER 190B MASSACHUSETTS UNIFORM PROBATE CODE
  • ARTICLE II INTESTACY, WILLS AND DONATIVE TRANSFERS
  • Section 2-804 Revocation of probate and nonprobate transfers by divorce; no revocation by other changes of circumstances

Section 2-804. [Revocation of Probate and Nonprobate Transfers by Divorce; No Revocation by Other Changes of Circumstances.]

(a) In this section:

(1) “Disposition or appointment of property”, includes a transfer of an item of property or any other benefit to a beneficiary designated in a governing instrument.

(2) “Divorce or annulment”, any divorce or annulment, or any dissolution or declaration of invalidity of a marriage, that would exclude the spouse as a surviving spouse within the meaning of section 2-802. A judgment of separation that does not terminate the status of husband and wife is not a divorce for purposes of this section.

(3) “Divorced individual”, includes an individual whose marriage has been annulled.

(4) “Governing instrument”, a governing instrument executed by the divorced individual before the divorce or annulment of the individual’s marriage to the individual’s former spouse.

(5) “Relative of the divorced individual’s former spouse”, an individual who is related to the divorced individual’s former spouse by blood, adoption, or affinity and who, after the divorce or annulment, is not related to the divorced individual by blood, adoption, or affinity.

(6) “Revocable”, with respect to a disposition, appointment, provision, or nomination, means one under which the divorced individual, at the time of the divorce or annulment, was alone empowered, by law or under the governing instrument, to cancel the designation in favor of the former spouse or former spouse’s relative, whether or not the divorced individual was then empowered to designate himself in place of the former spouse or in place of the former spouse’s relative and whether or not the divorced individual then had the capacity to exercise the power.

(b) Except as provided by the express terms of a governing instrument, a court order, or a contract relating to the division of the marital estate made between the divorced individuals before or after the marriage, divorce, or annulment, the divorce or annulment of a marriage:

(1) revokes any revocable (i) disposition or appointment of property made by a divorced individual to the individual’s former spouse in a governing instrument and any disposition or appointment created by law or in a governing instrument to a relative of the divorced individual’s former spouse, (ii) provision in a governing instrument conferring a general or nongeneral power of appointment on the divorced individual’s former spouse or on a relative of the divorced individual’s former spouse, and (iii) nomination in a governing instrument, nominating a divorced individual’s former spouse or a relative of the divorced individual’s former spouse to serve in any fiduciary or representative capacity, including a personal representative, executor, trustee, conservator, agent, or guardian; and

(2) severs the interests of the former spouses in property held by them at the time of the divorce or annulment as joint tenants with the right of survivorship, transforming the interests of the former spouses into tenancies in common.

(c) A severance under subsection (b)(2) shall not affect any third-party interest in property acquired for value and in good faith reliance on an apparent title by survivorship in the survivor of the former spouses unless a writing declaring the severance has been noted, registered, filed, or recorded in records appropriate to the kind and location of the property which are relied upon, in the ordinary course of transactions involving such property, as evidence of ownership.

(d) Provisions of a governing instrument that are not revoked by this section are given effect as if the former spouse and relatives of the former spouse disclaimed the revoked provisions or, in the case of a revoked nomination in a fiduciary or representative capacity, as if the former spouse and relatives of the former spouse died immediately before the divorce or annulment.

(e) Provisions revoked solely by this section are revived by the divorced individual’s remarriage to the former spouse or by a nullification of the divorce or annulment.

(f) No change of circumstances other than as described in this section and in section 2-803 effects a revocation.

(g)(1) A payor or other third party is not liable for having made a payment or transferred an item of property or any other benefit to a beneficiary designated in a governing instrument affected by a divorce, annulment, or remarriage, or for having taken any other action in good faith reliance on the validity of the governing instrument, before the payor or other third party received written notice of the divorce, annulment, or remarriage. A payor or other third party is liable for a payment made or other action taken after the payor or other third party received written notice of a claimed forfeiture or revocation under this section.

(2) Written notice of the divorce, annulment, or remarriage under subsection (g)(2) shall be mailed to the payor’s or other third party’s main office or home by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, or served upon the payor or other third party in the same manner as a summons in a civil action. Upon receipt of written notice of the divorce, annulment, or remarriage, a payor or other third party may pay any amount owed or transfer or deposit any item of property held by it to or with the court having jurisdiction of the probate proceedings relating to the decedent’s estate or, if no proceedings have been commenced, to or with the court having jurisdiction of probate proceedings relating to decedents’ estates located in the county of the decedent’s residence. The court shall hold the funds or item of property and, upon its determination under this section, shall order disbursement or transfer in accordance with the determination. Payments, transfers, or deposits made to or with the court discharge the payor or other third party from all claims for the value of amounts paid to or items of property transferred to or deposited with the court.

(h)(1) A person who purchases property from a former spouse, relative of a former spouse, or any other person for value and without notice, or who receives from a former spouse, relative of a former spouse, or any other person a payment or other item of property in partial or full satisfaction of a legally enforceable obligation, is neither obligated under this section to return the payment, item of property, or benefit nor is liable under this section for the amount of the payment or the value of the item of property or benefit. But a former spouse, relative of a former spouse, or other person who, not for value, received a payment, item of property, or any other benefit to which that person is not entitled under this section is obligated to return the payment, item of property, or benefit, or is personally liable for the amount of the payment or the value of the item of property or benefit, to the person who is entitled to it under this section.

(2) If this section or any part of this section is preempted by federal law with respect to a payment, an item of property, or any other benefit covered by this section, a former spouse, relative of the former spouse, or any other person who, not for value, received a payment, item of property, or any other benefit to which that person is not entitled under this section is obligated to return that payment, item of property, or benefit, or is personally liable for the amount of the payment or the value of the item of property or benefit, to the person who would have been entitled to it were this section or part of this section not preempted.