Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are often highly regarded for their ability to protect assets during divorce, which is certainly an important benefit of marital agreements. However, marital agreements also offer significant benefits for Florida estate planning purposes as well.
Here are four of the key ways a Florida estate plan benefits from the creation of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements Protect Beneficiaries
A key concept of a properly formed estate plan is that important assets and beneficiaries will be protected, which can be accomplished through both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.
For example, marriages that involve children from previous marriages should strongly consider making a premarital agreement with estate planning in mind. When both spouses come to an agreement on providing for children from a previous relationship, messy and complicated legal issues can be avoided concerning common issues like providing for a child’s college degree.
Similarly, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements help ensure that a spouse’s long-term plans to provide for a child are honored in the event of a divorce.
Marital Agreements Offer Asset Protection
Commonly, prenuptial agreements are regarded as the means by which a wealthy spouse can protect assets in divorce. This can certainly be true for matters of divorce, but marital agreements may also be used to limit the rights of a surviving spouse at death as well.
According to Florida law, a surviving spouse includes a minimum 30% value of the estate, a value known as “the elective share.” There are many reasons why a spouse or both spouses may wish to waive this elective share, such as providing exclusively for children or other beneficiaries. However, a spouse’s right to the elective share can only be waived by creating a legally enforceable prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, as determined by Section 732.702 of The 2018 Florida Statutes.
Therefore, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is a necessary estate planning instrument for any spouse who, for any lawful reason, wishes to leave a surviving spouse with less than 30% of the estate’s value.
Inheritance Assets Are Protected by Legally Valid Marital Agreements
It is important to remember that, in death, inherited assets can be subject to spousal claims without a valid marital agreement in place. It is often ideal to remove inherited assets from divorce and estate planning considerations altogether, which can be achieved through prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.
For example, a prenuptial agreement may state a fixed term and amount of alimony, which provides valuable asset protection for inherited assets. And, if no divorce ever occurs, a marital agreement may also be used to then ensure the assets are protected from a spousal claim in the event of death.
Family Businesses and Succession Plans Benefit From Marital Agreements
Suppose you own and operate a business that you wish to be owned by a child who succeeds you. Such a plan can be greatly affected by divorce, as the business and its income can be subjected to alimony and Florida’s equitable distribution standard for marital property.
This, in turn, can mean a spouse receives access to business records and could even end up owning part of the business. If such an outcome is undesirable for any reason, then a premarital agreement can protect your business in the short-term, while also ensuring your long-term wishes for the business are honored as well.
For more information about marital agreements in Florida and the ways they can benefit your estate plan, contact The McKinney Law Group for a legal consultation.
If you have questions for a Tampa divorce lawyer, or are unaware of the terms and conditions of a Tampa divorce, talk to, and retain, a family law attorney who can help. Contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected]