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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Court Upholds Prenup Between Octogenarians

(CN) - An octogenarian failed to convince a California appeals court that her prenuptial agreement with her late husband, which she described as "he keeps his assets, I keep mine," was unenforceable.

Gertrude Fochs and Ted Will, former high school sweethearts, reconnected in their later life and married when they were both in their eighties.

In a prenuptial agreement, they agreed to waive their rights to each other's property and to pass their belongings to children from previous marriages. Fochs later described the agreement as "he keeps his assets, I keep mine."

After Will died two years later, Fochs petitioned the court, seeking a one-third interest in his estate. She claimed the prenuptial was unenforceable because it didn't comply with specific Family Code requirements. She also argued that, as an "omitted spouse" under the Probate Code, she was entitled to part of the estate that her late husband had divvied up before they were married.

The probate court upheld the agreement, saying it represented the parties' intentions, and was fair and reasonable.

The California Court of Appeals noted that the law mentions nothing about premarital inheritance waivers.

"This omission implies that the Legislature intended that omitted spouse waivers continue to be governed independently by the Probate Code," Justice Gilbert wrote. "Moreover, the two statutory schemes are not so inconsistent or irreconcilable that they cannot have concurrent operation."

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