Have you heard the big news about Bill and Melinda Gates? One of the world’s richest power couples is getting divorced and the public eye is watching to see how this unfolds. While sources say that they did not have a prenuptial agreement in place, it appears that they did have a postnuptial agreement and that it will be used as a guide for how the uncoupling process will unfold as the assets are divided according to the agreement. Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements can play an important part in setting and protecting expectations for the marriage and in the event of divorce. These agreements can also be valuable estate planning tools.
Bill and Melinda Gates may have wealth paralleled and exceeded only by an ultra-rich few in the world, but people of all levels of wealth can benefit from having a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place. If you are planning to marry, consider establishing a prenuptial agreement. If you are already married, you still have the option of establishing a postnuptial agreement. Such agreements can play a foundational role in protecting your assets and financial interests should you and your spouse end up going your separate ways in the event of divorce and even in the event of death.
While the more commonly known features of prenuptial agreements relate to how assets will be divided upon divorce and whether alimony will be provided when the marriage ends, other aspects such as anticipated inheritances can also be addressed. A prenuptial agreement can dictate what will happen to property in the event of one spouse’s death. Furthermore, a prenuptial agreement can address a waiver of the elective share. The elective share is an option for a surviving spouse who may have been left little-to-no inheritance by a deceased spouse. The elective share in Florida is 30% of the elective estate. If the deceased spouse disinherited the surviving spouse or left him or her less than 30% of the elective estate, the surviving spouse would likely opt to assert the right to take the elective share. This, however, can be waived through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Do you have more questions about including a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in your estate planning? Please reach out to our office to schedule an appointment.