Articles Posted in Prenuptial Agreement as Estate Planning Tool

In contrast to what many people think, the best estate planning considers all 

aspects of your life instead of only the end. The estate planning process requires thinking about what is important to you as well as your expectations for loved ones.

Prenuptial agreements, which a person enters into before marriage, guard those you love as well as create a groundwork for transparency and trust. While some people think prenuptial agreements “kill” the romance in a relationship, these agreements often actually act to strengthen. This article reviews some of the most common advantages for estates that people realize by creating prenuptial agreements.

In the recent case of Eskra v. Grace, a person filed a petition attempting to be named as personal representative of her deceased husband’s estate. The trial court denied her petition based on a premarital agreement waiving her interest in her deceased husband’s separate property. The court named the man’s parents as the estate’s co-administrators.

The Court’s Holding

The court held that the man was entitled to introduce evidence in support of her claim that she and her deceased husband mistakenly believed the premarital agreement only applied in case of divorce instead of after the man’s death. On remand, the trial court determined that the error was a unilateral mistake on the wife’s part and that the wife had no entitlement to rescission. The court expressly found that insufficient evidence existed that the husband either encouraged or fostered the wife’s incorrect impression. 

by Michael Ettinger, Esq.

Prenuptial agreements (“prenups”) are contracts entered into by a couple before marriage setting out the rights of the parties in the event of divorce or death. Less common is the postnuptial agreement, with similar terms, but executed by the parties after marriage.

Who signs these types of agreements and why? Often couples marrying for the second or more time will have children and/or substantial assets at the time of remarriage. They may wish to insure that all or some of their assets go to their children and not to the new spouse, who may have children and assets of their own. Even with a will which leaves everything to one’s children, without a prenup the surviving spouse is legally entitled to claim about half of the deceased spouse’s estate. Having been married before, these couples know that sometimes things do not work out and wish to simplify matters in the event of a divorce, including whether or not alimony will be payable.

by Michael Ettinger, Esq.

extended-family.gifWith people living much longer than in the past, the frequency of remarriage is increasing, even in later years. This latter phenomenon is raising a host of elder law estate planning issues. On the other hand, we are also seeing with increasing frequency the blended family with “his, hers and theirs” children, creating another set of potential pitfalls.

Most of these estate planning issues can be resolved with thoughtfulness on the part of the clients and the compassionate guidance of their estate planning attorney.

Contact Information