Forbes’ 400 Wealthiest Americans in 2010

The annual Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans has been released. The top tier of America’s wealth – the billionaire club – has not changed much during the Great Recession, although the wealthy have often seen their fortunes improve with time.

(C) Stephen M. Johnson, 2010. All rights reserved.

Women opting for prenuptial agreements in the new economy

Interesting story about the changing calculus of prenuptial agreements from CNBC. While prenuptial agreements have traditionally been used by men in the past, the new economic realities in which we live are causing more women to consider prenuptial agreements as well.

From an estate planning perspective, prenuptial agreements are best utilized where: (1) one prospective spouse has previously been married or in a relationship and has children from that relationship, and is concerned that those children may get left out of the estate plan when the spouse dies and is survived by the 2nd husband or wife, or (2) where the prospective spouses come to the marriage with grossly disproportionate assets (e.g. a very wealthy man and a woman with minimal financial assets, or vice versa) that they feel the need to protect from potential divorce property settlements in the future.

The law of prenuptial agreements may also evolve over time as more states opt for co-called “covenant marriage” laws, which bind the spouses more stringently than the traditional marriage laws coupled with no-fault divorce laws nationwide. For most individuals approaching marriage, effective and honest communication with one’s fiance about finances, estate planning, and other issues is a far better panacea than a prenuptial agreement .

(C) Stephen M. Johnson, 2010. All rights reserved.