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Can an estate plan and a prenuptial agreement coexist?

Imagine that you either inherit or create a business prior to getting married. You take this business to new or incredible heights, and the asset becomes very valuable. Some years later, you plan to get married to the love of your life. The two of you agree to a prenuptial agreement, and one of the provisions included in this document is that your business is separate from your spouse in case of a divorce.

Many years pass, and things are going just fine with your marriage. You and your spouse have a couple of kids now, and you're getting up there in age. So you start to consider all of the elements of an estate plan, and how you want your personal wealth to be handled in the future. As part of this estate plan, you know you want to let your assets go to your family.

So here is the question: can you have a prenuptial agreement and an estate plan with seemingly contrasting rules regarding certain elements of your life?

The answer is yes, but you have to make sure you craft your prenup and your estate plan properly. Since the prenup deals with family law and the loss of assets not by your free will, an estate plan can have different rules that deal with the gifting of assets by free will.

It is possible to craft these unique plans, but you want to make sure it is done properly. Consult a law firm with experience dealing with complex estate plans.

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

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