1. The unsigned agreement
He was madly in love with her. After going out with all the hot women of Tel Aviv and reaching the” old” age of 42, he met her and felt that all the relationships he had had up to that point were only preparing him for this powerful relationship. The 12-year age gap did not bother anyone, and in about two months since the first date it was clear that this was it, forever. “The wedding of the year”, named by the gossip columns, was an event that was much talked about and documented from all angles. The hundreds of guests who filled the prestigious event garden sensed and knew nothing about the turmoil that the couple in love just went through. The prenup turmoil.
Two weeks before the wedding he asked that they meet with his lawyer and sign a prenup. It was perfectly clear to him that they were not getting married without it. He was no longer a young boy and had accumulated a few assets in his life, and their love was not based on his money and fortune, it was true love. It was an entirely technical issue for him, and he assumed there would be no problem. The only problem was that assumptions, by nature, are not always aligned with reality. What he viewed as a technical matter was perceived by her as a terrible blow. His casual demand for a prenup was proof to her of his lack of love and concern for her, and a firm evidence that he did not care about her. Her pain was so great that she dramatically packed all her belongings into a black suitcase, ordered a taxi and drove away in tears while making a show of leaving the keys of the new Audi he had bought her on the entrance counter. The dozens of messages he sent her as soon as she left did not receive a response. She turned off her phone and disappeared for 24 hours. He thought he was going crazy and when he heard from her after 24 hours, he was willing to do anything to get her back. The prenup was no longer discussed. He was convinced that she would take nothing, seeing that she left the Audi he had bought in the garage.
The turmoil was gone, the wedding of the year proceeded, and seven years had passed. Towards the age of 50 he changed a bit, was more distant and talking about midlife crisis. A brief probing on his phone when he returned drunk from a night out, falling asleep like a log, revealed to her that he was having an affair with his business partner. She did not say a word to him but a week later he received a summons to court.
It turned out that ever since their wedding she was obsessively collecting every possible document, preparing herself for the day after. He, on the other hand, was totally oblivious, was not taking steps to separate his pre-marital assets from the marriage property, and basically made every possible mistake. “I was naive,” the shrewd businessman told me, “I trusted her.” She was now demading a total property sharing, including prenuptial property, all of it, using the absence of a prenup as evidence of his intention to share all property. Granted, she has not yet won, is expected to encounter a hard battle and as far as we are concerned will not win … But – if there was a prenup, it would have been possible to prevent everything from happening in advance.
Final thoughts –
– Talk explicitly about a prenup long enough before the wedding, preferably at the beginning of the relationship.
– A total refusal to sign a prenup is a huge warning sign that would be a shame to ignore.
– If you bury your head in the sand – not signing a prenup, failing to maintain a clear property separation, and believing that your marriage would last forever even while having an affair – take responsibility for the consequences.
2. The unborn child
They had been together for two years already, both divorced with three children each from their first marriages. They went through a classic “second chapter”, full of love and passion but not suffocating each other and allowing for space, enabling post-divorce parenting and quality time with their respective children. That is until she found out she was pregnant. “It implanted,” she informed him one Friday when they met for breakfast at a restaurant. He did not understand what she was talking about. “What implanted?” He asked. “It implanted. We’re pregnant.” He was convinced she was joking. He could not believe that at the age of 39 with three children from a previous marriage she was suddenly pregnant. It turned out that she had decided on her own to stop taking birth control pills as she believed, according to her, that she was too old and had no chance of getting pregnant. When he realized that she was serious, he asked her to get an abortion. This pregnancy fell on his head like a sack of swords and he used all his persuasion power to get her to agree to an abortion. She objected, vehemently. She said she was not going to kill any child. He was shocked not only by the unexpected pregnancy, but also by her refusal to have an abortion and cut off contact with her for a week. He said he had to think.
A week later she called and said that their relationship was more important to her than anything else, and that she would have an abortion. She said she realized that he was easily capable of leaving her and demanded $70,000 as a condition to the abortion, so that she could take care of herself if they would end up separating. In the same breath, she told him how much she loved him and was prepared to do everything for him, and that only for him was she prepared to “kill the child”, as she put it.
A week later, they were at the hospital waiting for their abortion appointment. Before getting in she asked to see the wire transfer to her account. Online, On her mobile. Only when she was convinced that the money had been transferred did she have the abortion. They did not stay together even for a day after that. He drove her home and made sure she was ok, then left and never came back. The suit arrived soon after. She did not mention the ransom she received for the abortion and demanded money and rights. The judge, who disliked that stunt very much, expressed his opinion about it in the first hearing, and explained to her that she should get off her high horse, and the sooner the better.
The moral of the story –
In a relationship there is no place and zero tolerance for blackmail of any kind. That is a very clear boundary that needs to be put in place, and if someone crosses it and you are being blackmailed – run, and the sooner the better.
3. The undrafted will
They had an affair for 15 years. A quiet, discreet affair, sort of a double life that became so natural to them that sometimes they mistakenly thought that was how things were supposed to be. Each of them had children from their official marriage and, over the years, grandchildren as well, and they continued their affair and secret rendezvouses for twice a week for years. Until she was widowed. Her husband died of a serious illness and she remained alone after she had been devotedly taking care of him. The lifelong balance was broken, and he decided that he would not leave her alone, and at the age of 64 he asked for a divorce. It was not simple, but there was enough property to be distributed, and he and his wife went to mediation and quickly ended things, not least because of the nobility of his wife and grown children who had not judged him and remained in good relationship.
Soon after his divorce they moved in together and he felt as if it had always been so and that his soul had found its place. His happiness was clearly visible. At the same time, it was clear to both of them that a financial agreement should be signed, and that each of them had to take care of his children and grandchildren. About a year after they moved to live together, they went to a lawyer and signed a financial agreement that stipulated total separation. They declare their desire to each take care of their own children and grandchildren, detailing the property belonging to each of them and making sure to clarify this desire in at least 5 different sections of the agreement, to remove all doubt. They both wanted for nothing, and each day together made them happier, asking themselves how they had not done it before.
Eleven years later, at the end of 2017, she suddenly passed away. A motorcycle rider who did not notice the older woman slowly crossing the street at dusk crashed into her. She was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and two weeks later, during which he stayed by her side day and night, she died and he was overcome by grief. When her children tried to handle her inheritance, they found out that she had not made a will. It also turned out that after 11 years of living together, he was the legal heir to half of her estate, including all the wealth she inherited from her late husband, which her children waived at the time for her benefit, as was customary. Her children presented the financial agreement, explaining that she was sure that that agreement regulated everything, that she told them that she had handled everything and that there was nothing to worry about. I showed them the clause in the financial agreement stating that each one of them was entitled to make a will as he or she sees fit and asked why she did not make a will. They said that she believed that a will would bring her death closer and that the financial agreement was sufficient to protect their property. When they realized the magnitude of the problem, they turned to him and asked him to sign a withdrawal from her estate in their favor. What do you think – Did he turn out a mensch and signed?
The moral of the story –
A financial agreement is never enough. It regulates the relationship at the time of separation and is not a substitute for a will. Make a will at any time and age if you live in a relationship and do not want your spouse to inherit half of your property. And another thing – they say that a will is a virtue of longevity, and that no one knows the day of his death, so even if you are young, make a will.
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