Prenuptial agreements are often very important for people who are preparing to marry. They especially should be considered by those who are marrying for a second or subsequent time, especially in the event that one or both parties have children from a previous relationship.
The recent court battle between Robin Williams' third wife and his children from a previous marriage demonstrates the importance of not only having a prenuptial agreement in place, but also with being extremely detailed in its provisions. Although Mr. Williams did have a prenuptial agreement along with various trusts and other estate documents, he failed to include some of his personal items in any of the documents. Now, his third wife and his children are going through litigation over those pieces of property.
The important point Mr. Williams' case demonstrates is that a prenuptial agreement can be used to protect the interests of a person's children over those of the new spouse. It also shows that the document can be used in some cases to waive the spouse's claim to property in the event the person suddenly dies, thus avoiding future litigation between the spouse and the person's children. As many courts are now enforcing postnuptial agreements, in the event a prenuptial agreement was not signed, people may want to consider completing a similar agreement after the marriage instead. A person who is considering remarriage and whose prospective new spouse refuses a prenuptial agreement may want to think about walking away.
People most often think of prenuptial agreements in the context of a future divorce. While they certainly may provide protection in that instance, they also can be important in preventing litigation over passing of assets if the person suddenly dies.
Source: CNBC, "Remarrying? Shower kids with love, and a good prenup", Constance Gustke, Feb. 12, 2015