Losing your spouse changes everything. You not only have to deal with the grief of losing your partner, but you also have to attend to the administrative tasks associated with settling the estate.

If you and your spouse had a prenuptial agreement in place, then you might be wondering how that affects the estate distribution. In general, that depends on the terms of your prenup, more than anything else.

How Does a Prenup Work?

A prenuptial agreement, commonly known as a “prenup,” is a document that two people use to set terms before they get married. These documents require consent from both parties.

Prenups are generally used to protect assets in case of a divorce, but some people also use them as a form of estate planning. For example, if two people get married later in life, they might use a prenup to ensure that children from a past marriage will get the bulk of their parent’s estate when they pass away.

Does a Prenup Override a Will?

When settling an estate, wills and trusts are the most common structures used to pass on wealth. However, prenups can override state laws of community property.

It is uncommon for a prenup and a will to contradict each other. When they do, the court will ask for proof of the source of the assets in question and will use that information when making a ruling.

Most of the time, prenups are upheld in court, as long as they are valid. However, they can be ruled invalid if it’s found that one of the parties was coerced into making the agreement or did not have access to impartial legal counsel. Prenups can also cause tension between surviving spouses and other family members named in the will, so it’s important that they are drawn up carefully with the help of experienced lawyers.

Do You Need a Prenuptial Agreement?

Prenuptial agreements can be a good way for two people to go into a marriage with clear expectations. They can also help ensure that any assets acquired before marriage are protected. However, not everyone needs one.

If you have significant assets or want to specify the terms of your estate prior to marriage, then a prenup might be an important tool for you. Or, if you and your spouse signed a prenup years ago and you want to know more about the estate distribution process, call our Birmingham, Alabama law office at (205) 858-9224 to discuss your case with our experienced family law attorneys.