Beyond Death Do Prenuptial Agreements Part the Assets

Beyond Death Do Prenuptial Agreements Part the Assets

The law in Pennsylvania has long been favorable to carefully drafted prenuptial agreements, and particularly so when those agreements include full and complete disclosure of both parties’ assets. That position was reinforced in a recent case in which the Superior Court ruled that the definition and identification of “separate property” in a pre-nuptial agreement could not be stretched or expanded to include financial accounts that existed at the time the prenuptial agreement was written, but were not identified in that agreement.

In re Estate of Hornburg involved at least one of the decedent’s five children by his first marriage and an heir under his Will, trying to recover funds obtained by his widow/second wife from an offshore account held in the joint names of the decedent and the widow at the time he died. The daughter’s position was that the account existed prior to the marriage and that all of the money in it was her Father’s pre-marital money. While the court agreed with those facts, the determining facts were that the pre-nuptial agreement spelled-out and identified each party’s “separate assets” and that off-shore account was neither identified nor did it fit the definition of separate property. Accordingly, the account was marital and the money in it belongs to the widow, not the daughter or the other heirs of the estate.

Careful preparation and drafting of prenuptial agreements, and very careful preparation of the full disclosure of assets required by prenuptial agreements is critically important to the meaning, and more importantly to the eventual effect, of the agreement. As this case illustrates, the effect of a carefully drafted prenuptial agreement may reach beyond death.

To schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys or for further information, call us at the LaMonaca Law, at (610) 892-3877


About the author

About Lawrence Welsh

A funny thing happened to Larry (Lawrence C. Welsh) on the way to his professional career in the practice of law. After graduating from college and before entering law school, he took an extended tour through the hospitality industry, working his way through both the service and business sides of hotels, restaurants and resorts in six states and the District of Columbia. Taking the business acumen and the ever-watchful attention to detail so well-honed during that experience into his lifelong passion to practice law has led Larry to his position as Chief Legal Counsel and head of the firm’s Forensic Support Team. Before joining the firm, Larry worked in the public defender’s office, through which he added an array of advocacy skills and trial experience to his resume. Since joining the firm in 2003, Larry has handled a full range of family law issues, which he continues to do, while lending experience and direction to others in the firm, particularly where and when the resources of the Forensic Support Team are most appropriate. Larry is also licensed in New Jersey, and he leads the firm’s New Jersey team operations. Larry is a multi-year “Top Lawyer” honoree in Main Line Today magazine, and he has been named as an “Awesome/Top Attorney” for family law and divorce in Suburban Life Magazine. Larry is an active member of the bar associations and family law sections of Delaware County, Chester County, and the state of Pennsylvania.