Cutting a spouse out of an estate is the single most difficult thing to do in an estate plan. Most of the time, there is absolutely no way that it can be done as by law the spouse is entitled to a portion of the estate. It is always interesting then to hear about cases where a spouse is successfully cut entirely out of an estate.
The actor Dennis Hopper appears to have accomplished this feat. When he passed away, he was in the process of getting a divorce. Because the divorce had not been granted before the actor passed away, his wife would normally stand to inherit the largest share of his estate. The catch, in this case, was that Hopper had a pre-nuptial agreement that stated his wife could have no access or control of a Trust that Hopper had for his daughter. Hopper cleverly put all of his property in this Trust. When the pre-nuptial was deemed to be valid recently, his wife was effectively cut out of the estate and the daughter received Hopper’s entire estate.
Hopper’s is obviously an unusual case. Most people do not have this type of pre-nuptial agreement. What this does show is that other legal agreements can have a big affect on estate plans, so make sure that your attorney knows about them.