A last will and testament is a legal document that spells out your final wishes and gives you control over how your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries upon your death. So in a perfect scenario, your will is submitted for probate upon your death, and everything you’ve outlined is honored — right down to the smallest detail. But what if you and your spouse entered into a pre-marital agreement before marriage, and it has conflicting language? Can that agreement somehow conflict with a will?
While everyone’s situation is unique, including how both documents were written and executed, it is very likely that the terms of a previously-existing pre-marital agreement could clash with or even contradict the will.
First Things First — What Is a Pre-Marital Agreement
Also known as a prenuptial agreement or “prenup,” this agreement serves as a contract between you and your soon-to-be spouse that sets rules on things like property, assets, and certain marital obligations. In other words, it helps determine what happens to assets in the event of divorce or death — before entering into marriage. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that by creating one and signing it, potential disputes can be resolved and potentially avoided entirely.
To summarize, a pre-marital agreement can have the following benefits:
- Predetermining certain rights and duties of the potential spouses
- Specifying what happens in the case of death or incapacity
- Making property distribution and legal processes smoother
How Can a Pre-Marital Agreement Conflict With a Will?
In simplest terms, suppose the prenup clearly states all assets go to the wife upon the husband’s death, but the will spells out an even distribution of assets between the wife and their children. In this scenario, both documents spell out different rules for what should happen next. At their core, they conflict and even contradict one another.
And the more detailed each document gets, the more likely that they’ll clash on other terms. This could lead to the heirs having grounds to legally contest the validity of the will or prenup. Meanwhile, the Court must determine which document is enforceable.
If you are in this situation, contacting one of our attorneys and Christman Attorneys, PLLC, is best.
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