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A prenuptial agreement in California needs full disclosure

California couples may be interested in the questions asked by the spouse of a man who is suffering from dementia, related to her inheritance in the event of his death. She claims to have signed a prenuptial agreement under duress, before their marriage. Initially, the agreement allowed her to receive $10,000 from his estate, but this was later adjusted to also incorporate $50,000 from her husband's individual retirement account.

Her concern, though, is that no mention is made in the agreement of their house that is worth approximately $600,000. In California, being a community property state, assets would typically be divided on a 50/50 basis; however, a prenuptial agreement would supersede the marital law. In the event of her husband's death, the court will decide about the division of assets that are not mentioned in the prenuptial agreement.

According to the media report, this man has children from a previous marriage who will also have an interest in their father's estate. There are certain legal requirements for a prenuptial agreement. In cases where one spouse was forced to sign a prenuptial agreement, or where the court determines that the agreement is not just or reasonable, it has the right to invalidate such an agreement.

From the above story, California couples may recognize the importance of full disclosure and communication during the drawing up of a prenuptial agreement. The aim with such a document is to protect the assets of both parties. Assets meant to go to children or other beneficiaries could be covered in a will or trust. If the legalities of a prenuptial agreement seem intimidating, couples may seek the assistance of readily available help to guide them through the process and ensure the protection of the interests of all parties.

Source: Newsday, "Prenuptial agreement supersedes marital law", Lynn Brenner, May 2, 2014

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