Prenuptial Estate Planning

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You're engaged? Congratulations! Now, add this item to the wedding planning list: prenuptial estate planning.

Estate planning for the recently engaged couple is a challenge. It's something that is often overlooked, even by financial advisors. Yet it matters, as I've seen in my own practice.

Ken, someone I had known since childhood, came to me as a client when he was in his 40s and recently engaged. The wedding date was a year away. Ken’s family was quite successful, and he personally owned a large income-producing commercial property that did quite well.

As we discussed his estate planning desires, I learned that he had no will but intended to have one drawn after the wedding. His fiance worked with him in managing the commercial property, which he wanted her to inherit. It was important to him that she would be provided for.

I asked him, if he were to die today, would he want her to have the property even though they were not yet married. He did. He also pointed out that the chances of him dying today weren't that great and he didn’t want the double cost of drawing up a will now and then again after they were married.

I reminded him that wills were for today, not tomorrow, and it was important that he get a will drawn now, before they were married. Dying without a will in South Dakota meant his family would inherit the property and his fiance would receive nothing. He was clear that this was not what he would want to happen, and he said he would get an appointment with an attorney.