21st Feb 2013
All marriages whether good or bad end. It may end in divorce (or similar actions) or in death. In a good marriage, when one spouse dies ahead of the other, then that person must have a good estate plan in place to ensure that his or her property is transferred to his or her spouse. If the marriage ends sourly, then the partners should also have a plan. Well, if they don’t have a plan, then the state of California has a plan for you. Now, will that plan be suitable for you?
It is the same with estate planning. If you do not have an estate plan, the state of California has a plan for your beneficiaries when you die. It is called intestacy. California law stipulates an order of succession of relatives who are legally entitled to get their share of your estate. You may have a different idea as to who should get parts of your estate when you die.
Since you most likely have a different idea as to how to transfer your property in the event of your death, mental incapacity and (possible) divorce, then you must have a well-drafted estate plan and prenuptial agreement in place. What you have to watch out for, especially if you are entering a second (or nth marriage) and have children from a previous marriage, is that the two documents may contravene each other.
Hence, you are advised to consult an attorney from Orange County who is knowledgeable in both estate planning and prenuptial agreements. If you already have an estate planning document such as a will, revocable trust or durable power of attorney in place, you may have to ask your attorney to review these to see if these work in conjunction with your planned prenuptial agreement. Your attorney may recommend some amendments to ensure that these two documents work hand in hand with each other.
One instance where it is paramount for prenups to work in sync with estate planning documents is with couples who are on a second or third (or nth marriage) and they want their property to be passed on to their children by a previous marriage – and not with children from the new spouse. The would-be spouses can actually get what they desire but the estate plan and the prenuptial agreement must be in agreement. Your estate planning attorney from Orange County can review your prenup and estate planning documents so you can get just what you want.
Thus, it is important to have a lawyer from who is well-versed in the nuances of estate planning and prenuptial agreements. You may have the best-drafted prenuptial agreements and estate planning documents, but if the two are not working in conjunction with each other, the consequences, in case of divorce, death or mental incapacity can be bad for the people you love and care for.