One of the richest aristocrats in Europe passed away recently and details about her estate plan have been made public. She left her husband nothing.
Spain’s Duchess of Alba was a notoriously flamboyant woman and one of the wealthiest women in Europe. A direct descendant of King James II of England, she played with the future Queen Elizabeth II as a child.
Surprise. In 2011, the Duchess married her third husband, a mere 24 years younger than she.
A final surprise. At her passing the Duchess disinherited her husband.
This complete story is told in the headline of a recent article in The Daily Mail: “Duchess of Alba, who died aged 88, leaves NOTHING to her 64-year-old toyboy while her six children get the 3 billion fortune – and a palace each.”
Will this move stand up in court?
Normally in Spain, as in the United States, you cannot cut a spouse out of an estate. However, in this case, an agreement was made before the wedding that the Duchess’ new spouse would not receive any portion of her estate.
This agreement was made to ensure that her children did not object to the marriage.
Similar prenuptial arrangements can often be made in the United States. As long as the agreements are fair and voluntary, courts will generally uphold them as valid. In the absence of such an agreement, a spouse is always entitled to a portion of the estate.
These agreements are often a good idea when both spouses are independently wealthy and at least one of them has children from a previous marriage.
If you have questions about whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you and your intended, then consult an experienced estate planning attorney for advice.
Reference: Daily Mail (November 20, 2014) “Duchess of Alba, who died aged 88, leaves NOTHING to her 64-year-old toyboy while her six children get the 3 billion fortune – and a palace each“
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