Monday, June 20, 2011

Prenuptial Agreements

When one marries a second time it is critically important to protect one's wealth through a Prenuptial Agreement. This is a contract between two parties entered into upon the advice of counsel that sets forth the rights a spouse will have after one is legally married. A typical Prenuptial Agreement will set forth what is considered "Separate Property" and what property will be deemed to be "Marital Property". Separate Property is wealth that the future spouse waives his or her rights to upon death or divorce. When someone says "I do" a spouse gains legally enforceable rights to take against a will or a living trust by virtue of the marriage contract. The only way to protect against a second spouse upsetting the apple cart for the heirs is to have the spouse waive those rights before the marriage. This has to be done upon advice of counsel and full disclosure. A Prenuptial Agreement needs to be signed long before the date of the marriage ceremony so as to avoid any undue influence that might give someone the right to void the agreement at a later time. Married couples need to promise their current spouses that they will enter into Prenuptial Agreements if they decide to remarry after one becomes a widow or widower.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Estate Planning for One's Social Media

While traditional estate planning deals with one's physical assets such as bank accounts, stocks and bonds, brokerage accounts, real and personal property, etc. the mark of a good estate plan goes beyond these matters to reflect a client's goals, legacy and history for future generations. Today one's social media may record more about a person's hopes, dreams and goals than ever before. So what happens to your Twitter, Facebook or Linked-In accounts when someone dies?

Facebook has a page here whereby one's Facebook page can be memorialized for friends of the deceased Facebook owner. Comments can be left on the wall for the family. The same link can also be used to close the account.

Twitter has a policy that sets forth the requirements for saving a deceased's public tweets or deleting them. They require the following information:

  1. Your full name, contact information (including e-mail address), and your relationship to the deceased user;

  2. The username for the Twitter account, or a link to the profile page of the Twitter account.

  3. A link to a public obituary or news article.

One can either contact them at or mail or fax at:

Twitter, Inc.
c/o: Trust & Safety
795 Folsom Street, Suite 600
San Francisco, CA 94107

Fax: 415-222-9958

Linked-In has a very simple "Verification of Death Form" here. One can opt to submit the form on-line or via Fax.

As with a person's other property, one's estate planning may include instructions on how one wishes their intangible property to be used even after one's death. Social media may do more to preserve one's photos, videos and conversations for future generations than ever before possible.