Estate planning involves using multiple tools to solidify our wishes and preferences regarding future asset distribution. Common estate planning tools include wills and trusts. But did you know a prenuptial agreement can also be a useful tool in your estate plan? While couples usually enter this contract in case of a divorce, it also applies if one of the spouses dies.
With multiple documents in your estate plan, it is possible that you unknowingly included terms in your prenup that conflicts with your estate plan. What happens then?
Will versus prenup agreement
The death of a spouse will trigger the execution of both the will and the prenuptial agreement. If heirs find conflicting terms between the will and the prenup, they can challenge the will’s validity for ambiguity or mistake. On the other hand, a prenuptial agreement continues to be enforceable as long as it meets the requirements for a valid prenup.
Does this mean that a prenup takes priority over a will? Not necessarily, but the likelihood is high. Unless there is evidence to prove that there was fraud, coercion or duress during the signing of the prenup, it will continue to be enforceable.
One of the instances wherein a will can take precedence over a prenup is when the laws of the state governing the agreement rule that in case of conflict, a will shall take priority over a prenup.
Prevention is better than cure
When you’re planning your estate, it is important to ensure that the terms in all your estate planning tools complement each other. Having complementing will and prenup will strengthen and support your estate plan and minimize disagreements among your family members and heirs. This is possible through carefully constructing provisions and having an estate planning professional review your documents.