If you are like the vast majority of people, as soon as you hear the term “prenuptial agreement” you immediately think of planning for the division of marital assets in the event the marriage fails. While this is certainly one use for a prenuptial agreement, there are others. For example, a prenuptial agreement is often used as an estate planning tool for a couple who plan to create a blended family.
Blended families have become the norm in America over the last half of a century. Along with other concerns when you enter into a blended family, one major concern is often how to protect children from a previous marriage in the event of the death of a parent. Of course you can gift assets to your children in your Last Will and Testament; however, many states allow a spouse to take against the Will. If that occurs, then your new spouse will receive estate assets that may have been intended for your children. Your Will can also be contested by your new spouse. If the court invalidates your Will as a result, then state intestate succession laws will likely give your spouse a significant portion of your estate assets.
One way to avoid either of these possibilities, or at least diminish the possibility, is to enter into a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married. With a well drafted prenuptial agreement in place, you will have additional peace of mind that your children will be financially protected in the event of your death.
The Law Offices of Barton P. Levine is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.