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The prenup v. estate plan conundrum can be solved

Estate planning is already a very complex area of law, but imagine the following scenario. A married couple signed a prenuptial agreement before they got married, and they have lived happily together for many years. Now that they are getting older, they are getting more involved in sculpting their estate plans. As a result, they are thinking about a variety of issues and they want them to be addressed in wills, through trusts, and various other elements of the ultimate estate plan.

However, they then remember about the prenuptial agreement they have. What if the prenup has language in it that somehow contradicts what they are discussing in their estate plan? Would legal complications arise around their estate plan simply because they have a prenuptial agreement? 

The simple answer is "it depends." Every case is unique. Some prenups may cause complications with your estate plan, and vice versa. But there are certainly ways for a spouse to craft an estate plan so that he or she is able to leave something behind for his or her family.

For example, you could have a clause in your prenuptial agreement that protects the family business that you are invested in from your spouse in case of divorce. But at the same time, you could craft your estate plan in a way that allows that business, or the valuation of the business, to be passed on to your spouse, children or loved ones in case of death.

These may be two competing ideas, but they can coexist. Just because you have a prenup in place doesn't mean that your estate plan will be ruined.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Creating an Estate Plan Around a Prenup," Alex Coppola, July 11, 2014

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