Why Would I Need a Post-Nup?

Vigour Times’ recent article entitled “Here’s Why Married Couples Might Want To Sign A Postnuptial Agreement” looks at the situations that might prompt a couple to prepare a postnuptial agreement.

For example, married couples may need to adjust a pre-nup they signed before they were married. They want to make certain the new terms are based on the things that have occurred since that time.

Changes in marital dynamics can trigger a change in the terms of a pre-nup. For instance, couples may not have thought that one spouse would begin to earn a lot more than the other or that, as the marriage endured over time, greater trust grew between the partners.

A post-nup may also come into play when a couple is thinking about divorce but still trying to work things out. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 10 years as many as 43% of first marriages can fail.

Because divorcing sooner rather than later could be more advantageous to one of the spouses, their agreement may say the marriage ended as of the date of the post-nup for purposes of calculating alimony and property division, should efforts to repair a marriage be unsuccessful.

There are circumstances when a post-nup is needed to work around state laws to allow one spouse to leave the other one less than what is required by state law.

Many people don’t know that once they’re married, state law usually gives their spouse a minimum percentage of the estate, even if the deceased spouse tried to leave it to someone else. One example of this is where a person in a second marriage wants to leave all their assets to children from a previous marriage.

Ask an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure the plan is consistent with the estate documents, especially as to trusts.

There also may be external forces, such as a future change in wealth that trigger a post-nup. For instance, in the event of a potential inheritance, for example, an heir — or the relatives leaving the assets — may insist on a post-nup, so the wealth will stay on their side of the family and not be included in any possible divorce negotiations.

Reference: Vigour Times (Nov. 27, 2022) “Here’s Why Married Couples Might Want To Sign A Postnuptial Agreement”

What Is Wife of Chrysler Building Billionaire Owner Entitled to Under Prenup?

Sixty-two-year-old Michael Fuchs and 47-year-old Alvina Collardeau-Fuchs, who are in the process of divorcing, lived the “billionaire lifestyle” during their marriage with a string of luxury properties around the world, reports The Digital Journal’s recent article entitled “French wife of Chrysler Building billionaire owner entitled to £37 mn under prenup.”

Money was “never a concern” and the couple enjoyed “fully staffed homes” in fashionable locations such as the Hamptons, New York City, Paris, Miami, Cap d’Antibes, Capri and London.

Fuchs is originally from Germany but moved to the U.S. in the 1990s. He and former journalist Collardeau-Fuchs married in New York in 2012 and went on to have two children. However, they separated in 2020, and the High Court in London was asked to rule on the amount to which Collardeau-Fuchs was entitled. Fuchs’ lawyers argued his estranged wife should get about $36 million, but she claimed it should be more than $53 million.

Despite the two having signed a prenuptial agreement, accusations have been lobbed both ways, including Collardeau-Fuchs’ alleging that Fuchs tried to control her spending and made her daily life “intolerable.”

At one hearing, the court heard that Fuchs had enjoyed an “extraordinarily successful career” and owned a “very significant amount of prime mid-town Manhattan real estate”. In fact, the Art Deco Chrysler Building on the East Side of Manhattan, one of New York’s most distinctive landmarks, is owned by Fuchs’ company. However, Fuchs said the value of his fortune had plummeted recently due to the turbulent economic climate.

Such litigation is usually avoided with a properly drafted prenuptial agreement.

A prenuptial agreement is a legal agreement between two partners engaged to be married and is effective upon marriage.

A prenup [also known as an antenuptial agreement or premarital agreement] can set out the property rights and financial arrangements upon which the engaged couple has agreed.

It also allows the couple to contract for themselves–how they want their property, assets, income and inheritance to be viewed or considered in their marriage.

Reference: Digital Journal (Nov. 14, 2022) “French wife of Chrysler Building billionaire owner entitled to £37 mn under prenup”

Why Is Valerie Bertinelli’s Ex Challenging Their Pre-Nup?

On Wednesday, Food Network host Valerie Bertinelli filed a 13-page petition to bifurcate her marital status from financial issues in her divorce from Tom Vitale, according to court records obtained by PEOPLE. The court documents note that Bertinelli is looking for “an early and separate trial on the issue of validity of Premarital Agreement,” says MSN’s recent article entitled “Valerie Bertinelli Requests Separate Trial to Validate Prenup in Divorce from Tom Vitale.”

If the petition is granted by the judge, it would mean the former couple can’t move forward with divorce proceedings until the court determines the validity of the premarital agreement. Bertinelli’s request argues that granting this bifurcation could “assist the parties to achieve settlement of remaining issues.”

The former “One Day at a Time” actress is requesting a separate trial from any other outstanding issues regarding the divorce — a move she’s made after Vitale asked to be awarded $50,000 per month in spousal support and $200,000 in legal fees in early July, according to the records.

Bertinelli’s request claims that their 2010 premarital agreement contains a “waiver of temporary and permanent spousal support.”

Valerie’s husband of more than 10 years tried to block her from requesting spousal support and also challenged the validity of their prenuptial agreement itself.

Six months after legally separating in November, Bertinelli filed for divorce from Vitale in May.

She cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the dissolution of their marriage.

In June, the actress appeared on the Today show with Hoda Kotb and got emotional when asked if she ever wanted to look for love again. She said, “Oh, God no.”

“Because of the challenges that I’m going through right now, because divorce sucks. I can’t imagine ever trusting anyone again to let into my life. So, I have some trust issues that I’m sure I’m going to have to get past,” Bertinelli added.

The Hot in Cleveland star has also posted TikTok videos in which she mentions divorce. In May, she posted a video with the caption, “Divorce sucks.” In another May video, she shared a video of herself giving what appeared to be relationship advice to fans.

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the very first time. Don’t try to fix anything. Don’t try to change them. It’s not your job,” she said.

Reference: MSN (July 18, 2022) “Valerie Bertinelli Requests Separate Trial to Validate Prenup in Divorce from Tom Vitale”

What Exactly Is a Prenup?

There are some important financial decisions that need to be made before you get hitched. One of them is whether you should get a prenuptial agreement (“prenup”). This isn’t the most romantic issue to discuss, especially because these agreements usually focus on what will happen in the event of the marriage ending. However, in many cases, having tough conversations about the practical side of marriage can actually bring you and your spouse closer together.

JP Morgan’s recent article entitled “What to know about prenups before getting married” explains that being prepared with a prenup that makes both people in a marriage feel comfortable can be a great foundation for building a financially healthy and emotionally healthy marriage.

A prenup is a contract that two people enter before getting married. The terms outlined in a prenup supersede default marital laws, which would otherwise determine what happens if a couple gets divorced or one person dies. Prenups can cover:

  • How property, retirement benefits and savings will be divided if a marriage ends;
  • If and how one person in the couple is allowed to seek alimony (financial support from a spouse); and
  • If one person in a couple goes bankrupt.

Prenups can be useful for people in many different income brackets. If you or your future spouse has a significant amount of debt or assets, it’s probably wise to have a prenup. They can also be useful if you (or your spouse) have a stake in a business, have children from another marriage, or have financial agreements with an ex-spouse.

First, have an open and honest conversation with your spouse-to-be. Next, talk to an attorney, and make sure he or she understands you and your fiancé’s unique goals for your prenup. You and your partner will then compile your financial information, your attorney will negotiate and draft your prenup, you’ll review it and sign it.

Remember that a prenup can be a useful resource for couples in many different circumstances.

It might feel overwhelming to discuss a prenup with your fiancé, but doing this in a non-emotional, organized way can save a lot of strife in the future and could help bring you closer together ahead of your big day.

Reference: JP Morgan (April 4, 2022) “What to know about prenups before getting married”

Should I Sign a Prenup before I Get Married again at 60?

A “prenup” can spell out which expenses will belong to each individual and which will be for the couple. In addition, a prenup can state where marital assets will go in case of death or divorce, says FedWeek’s recent article entitled “A Prenup May Be Prudent for Later-Life Marriages.”

In some states, a prenuptial agreement is called an “antenuptial agreement” or a “premarital agreement.”

Sometimes the word “contract” is used rather than “agreement,” as in “prenuptial contract.”

An agreement made during marriage, rather than before, is known as a “postnuptial,” “post-marital,” or “marital” agreement.

For a prenup to be valid, each party should seek the advice of an attorney. These attorneys should be independent of each other, so one attorney shouldn’t represent both parties. The agreement should fully disclose each spouse-to-be assets and liabilities.

Here are some reasons that some people want a prenup:

  • Pass separate property to children from your prior marriages. A marrying couple with children from prior marriages may sign a prenup to state what will occur to their assets when they die, so that they can pass on separate property to their children and still provide for each other, if necessary. Without a prenup, a surviving spouse may have the right to claim a large piece of the other spouse’s property, resulting in much less for the stepchildren.
  • Clarify financial rights. Couples with or without children may just want to clarify their financial rights and responsibilities during marriage.
  • Avoid disagreements in a divorce. A couple may want to avoid potential arguments if they divorce, by stating in advance the way in which their property will be divided, and whether or not either spouse will receive alimony (some states won’t allow a spouse to give up the right to alimony).
  • Protection from debts. These agreements can also be used to protect spouses from each other’s debts, and they may also speak to a number of other issues.

To implement a prenup, don’t wait until the last minute.

Some prenups have been ruled invalid by the courts, when one spouse appears to have pressured the other to sign the contract right before the wedding.

Reference: FedWeek (Aug. 25, 2021) “A Prenup May Be Prudent for Later-Life Marriages”

Planning Future for Nontraditional Families

Today’s non-traditional family are not just LGBTQ couples, but families undergoing gray divorces, blended families, stepchildren, multinational families and children born through assisted reproductive technologies, referred to as ART, in a recent article titled “How to Plan for LGBTQ, Blended Families, Cohabitation, Other Nontraditional Families” from Financial Advisor.

The key is having an estate plan prepared that is flexible so that last wills, trusts, and all documents reflect the non-traditional family very clearly and do not leave room for courts to make decisions. Here are a few new elements to consider:

Gendered pronouns and definitions. Ideally, your estate documents should use specific names of individuals, not pronouns. We live in a fluid society and using pronouns could lead to unnecessary complications.

Recognize ART and its implications. If there are children conceived by ART, they need to be explicitly included as children of the family. DNA testing can result in a child inheriting assets from a parent they never knew. It may be wise to exclude biological children, parents or siblings who do not have a relationship with the family.

Trust Protector/Trust Decanting. By including provisions that permit trusts to be decanted, that is, transferred from one trust to another, your estate planning attorney will create flexibility to allow a trust protector (a non-fiduciary appointment of a third party) to make changes. The selection of the trust protector is particularly important, as they could have a large impact on the overall plan.

Marriage, non-marital relationships, divorce, remarriage. An estate plan needs to prepare for future changes with precision and flexibility. Protecting the family, its privacy and dignity can be done by limiting the information in the last will, which becomes a public document. While we can’t know what the future holds, we can plan for change.

Prenuptial agreements. State laws vary on what is acceptable and procedurally necessary for a prenup to be enforceable. Typically, the agreement must be voluntary and include full disclosure of both parties’ financial situation. In some states, post-nuptials can be prepared, if the parties can’t agree on the document before they are legally wed.

Divorce creates special estate planning issues. Beneficiary designations need to be changed for life insurance, IRAs and other non-probate assets. Take affirmative steps to ensure that ex-spouses, or soon-to-be exes are removed as beneficiaries on all accounts, including pensions and insurance plans subject to ERISA.

Cohabitating couples. Marital gifts are tax free, but that is not the case for people living together. Estate planning and tax planning needs to be done, so the surviving partner is taken care of. This may include the creation of a cohabitation agreement, similar to a prenuptial agreement.

Planning for sickness and death. Explicitly stating wishes for end-of-life medical treatments, including feeding tubes, respirators, heart machines, etc., is step one in having an Advance Medical Directive created. Step two is deciding who is empowered to make those decisions. Someone who is unmarried but has a partner or a second spouse needs to be authorized. Note that when an individual is hospitalized, stepparents may attempt to deny access to spouses’ children, or children may block access to a stepparent. There should also be a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) or Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) in place with the person’s wishes.

Non-traditional families of all types need to protect the family with estate planning and documentation. Issues about protecting children, making health care decisions for a critically ill partner and control of assets must be addressed in a way that respects the individuals and their families while working within the law.

Reference: Financial Advisor (Feb. 2, 2021) “How to Plan for LGBTQ, Blended Families, Cohabitation, Other Nontraditional Families”

How Estate Planning Keeps the Peace for Blended Families

With the IRS’s announcement that the first $11.58 million (in 2020) of a taxable estate is free from estate taxes, most people won’t have to worry about paying estate taxes. Therefore, what’s the biggest reason to have an estate plan?

Earlier this year, a survey was conducted at the 53rd annual Heckerling Institute of Estate Planning, a prestigious legal and financial conference that attracts leaders in the field of estate planning. For the second year in a row, family conflict was identified as the biggest threat to estate planning, reports Investment News in the article Reducing potential family conflicts.”

Statistics show that there are more blended families in the U.S. than ever before.

The increase in blended families has led to an increase in family conflicts. While open and honest communication is the key to any kind of conflict resolution, it’s particularly sticky when it comes to blended families. For most families, it’s a good idea to talk openly about estate plans, rather than waiting until one of the spouses has passed and explaining to the biological and stepchildren how the assets are being distributed. Discussing the estate plan before anyone dies, at the very least gives everyone a chance to voice their opinions, even if no changes to the spouse’s plans are made.

How do you minimize conflicts within blended families? One way is with a prenuptial agreement, which is executed before marriage and clarifies the financial rights of each spouse, in the event of divorce or death. This is especially useful, when there is a disparity in wealth or age between the couple.

However, not everyone is willing to have a prenup. And even if they do, family conflicts can still crop up. Let’s say Gary and Helen are married, each with children from a previous marriage. Gary wants to give his entire estate to Helen when he dies. If Gary dies first, there’s no legal reason for Helen to give any of Gary’s assets to his biological children.

There are any number of solutions. If Gary really wants to cut his children out of his will, he can talk with them and explain his thinking. He can also have an estate planning attorney include a “no contest” clause in his will. If any named beneficiary challenges the will, they will lose any inheritance and are treated legally, as if they have predeceased the decedent. Gary could also use a revocable living trust, which would avoid the estate being probated and deny the children an opportunity to challenge his will.

A better solution would be to craft an estate plan that benefits both Gary and Helen’s children. Harry’s children could receive a partial outright distribution when Gary dies, with the remaining estate passing to Helen. A trust could be created for Helen’s benefit, but the remaining trust assets could go to Gary’s children when Helen dies.

There are many different ways to resolve this issue with an eye to minimizing conflict among children in blended families. If the parents are truly invested in keeping their children together as a family, it is worth the effort to create an estate plan that cares for the spouses and all of the children. An estate planning attorney can create a plan to accomplish your goals for the entire blended family.

Reference: Investment News (December 9, 2019) Reducing potential family conflicts

How Do I Reduce My Blended Family Fighting Concerning My Estate Plan?

The IRS recently announced that in 2020, the first $11.58 million of a taxable estate is free from federal estate taxes. Therefore, a vast majority of estates won’t have to pay federal estate taxes. However, a TD Wealth survey at the 53rd Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning found that family conflict was identified as the leading threat to estate planning.

Investment News’ recent article, “Reducing potential family conflicts,” explains that a blended family can result from multiple marriages, children from a current or former marriage, or children involved in multiple marriages. There are more “blended families” in the U.S. than ever before. More fighting over estate planning occurs in blended families.

The key element in any conflict resolution is open and honest communication. It’s especially the case, when it involves a blended family. In many instances, it’s best to explain a proposed estate plan to the family in advance.

If anyone objects, listen to their point of view and try to be empathetic to their position. You may wind up with a compromise, or, if no changes are made, at least the family member had an opportunity to air their grievances.

One potential solution to minimize conflicts within a blended family may be a prenuptial agreement. The agreement is signed prior to the marriage and outlines the financial rights of each spouse, in the event of a divorce or death. Prenups are particularly useful in second marriages, especially when there is a disparity in age and wealth between the parties.

However, not every married couple in a blended family has a prenuptial agreement. Even if they do, blended families can still have family conflicts in estate planning.

It is important to remember communication, reducing the chances of a will contest with a “no-contest” clause, asking your attorney about a revocable living trust and compromise.

Estate planning can be particularly difficult for blended families. Talk with an experienced estate planning attorney about the techniques that can help reduce potential family conflicts.

Reference: Investment News (December 9, 2019) “Reducing potential family conflicts”

What Should I Keep in Mind, When I Remarry?

Before you remarry, discuss any past financial issues with your fiancé, and plan for success, by considering some important ideas.

U.S. News & World Report’s recent article, “6 Financial Considerations for Remarriage,” lists six financial considerations and crucial steps to take before you remarry:

  1. Revise Your Budget. Whether this is your first, second, or third marriage, couples need to create a budget for daily spending, monthly expenses and big-ticket purchases. You should also talk about your household expenses and costs related to children from a prior marriage. If you have to pay alimony, let your new spouse know. It’s also a good time to talk about credit card debt, past investments you’ve made and retirement accounts. You may want to draft a prenuptial agreement.
  2. Inform your Fiancé of Any Financial Obligations, Including Child Support. Before getting married, review the laws to see how child support may be impacted by marriage to a new person. While it’s unlikely that you would lose your child support if you remarry, the family court may reduce the amount. If a person paying the child support is remarrying, they should talk to their partner prior to the marriage to make certain they understand the amount of the payments.
  3. Check Insurance and Benefits. A frequent mistake when remarrying, is not updating the beneficiaries of life insurance policies. You also may have to look at other updates to your coverage, like who will be on your health plan, and you may need to modify your homeowner’s insurance with a spouse and children in residence. Understand that if you get government benefits, like Medicaid or Social Security, you could forfeit your Medicaid eligibility when you remarry if your spouse’s income is too high to be eligible. You might also discover that your Social Security benefits from an ex-spouse will stop, after you remarry.

A second marriage may also increase a parent’s income for federal financial aid purposes for college. If a parent is the custodial parent for the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), their income now may include their new spouse’s income. It is important to discuss saving for college and tuition costs, as well as if either partner has children from a prior marriage, whether each spouse will save money for tuition costs.

  1. Estate Planning Is Critical. Check your estate planning before remarrying. That includes a will, medical powers of attorney, do not resuscitate orders, durable powers of attorney, designations of guardianship or consent to adoption and various trusts, including trusts for special needs children. If you have children from a prior relationship, hire a qualified estate planning attorney.
  2. Create an Inheritance Plan. If you have children from a prior relationship, you need to put the right estate planning documents in place to protect them from being disinherited. In some states, a last will and testament may be enough, but in others it may make sense to also have a revocable living trust.

The biggest mistake that couples commit when entering their second marriage, is thinking that their own children will inherit any of their estate, if they die first. Perhaps the adult children will inherit some of the estate, but you should speak to an estate attorney to create a customized strategic plan. In many instances, the living spouse will change the plan and leave everything to their children and nothing to yours.

Reference: U.S. News & World Report (November 18, 2019) “6 Financial Considerations for Remarriage”