Many times spouses in Maryland will create prenuptial agreements prior to getting married, especially if one spouse has significant assets that they wish to remain separate from the marital estate. With this detail out of the way, most couples in love hear nothing but wedding-bells ringing. But they should keep in mind that sooner rather than later they should look into creating an estate plan, if they have not done so already.
There are ways to make a prenup and an estate plan compliment each other. For example, lets say one spouse comes into the marriage with a lucrative business. The couple may create a prenup in order to protect that spouse's business from becoming marital property during the course of the marriage and remain separate in the event of a divorce. Fast forward 10 years, and that spouse starts to contemplate how to provide for his family financially after he dies. It would seem that the prenup would prevent the other spouse from receiving any business assets, and that it may have to pass to other heirs. However, estate planning could overcome this.
In this scenario, the spouse who owns the business could enter into a family limited partnership. This would make it so that the other spouse could be provided for financially with assets stemming from the business, without actually granting that spouse any control over the day-to-day operations of the business. The plan would ultimately allow the spouse who owns the business to bequeath to the other spouse a limited partnership interest in the business through a testamentary trust, which that spouse would be both the beneficiary and the trustee of.
As this shows, prenups, businesses and estate planning can go hand-in-hand. The nuances of such endeavors however are complicated, often necessitating the creation of a new entity such as a limited liability partnership in order to effectively distribute the creator's assets in a way that benefits and protects them both during the marriage and following death or a subsequent divorce. Anyone who is looking into entering such transactions may want to seek professional advice before proceeding to ensure that no critical step is overlooked.