paper bills and coins

Her 64-year-old husband Alfonso Diez, who is 24 years her junior, was said to be at her bedside when she passed. He is not set to receive any of her fortune, which includes an impressive property portfolio, 50,000 pieces of artwork and 18,000 rare books, after he signed a document renouncing himself from her wealth prior to their marriage in October 2011.

Wait, I thought you couldn’t disinherit your spouse. Right? It seems the late Duchess of Alba would not agree with that notion.

Spain’s Duchess of Alba was a notoriously flamboyant woman and one of the wealthiest women in Europe. A direct descendant of King James II of England, she played with the future Queen Elizabeth II as a child.

Surprise. In 2011, the Duchess married her third husband, a mere 24 years younger than she.

A final surprise. At her passing the Duchess disinherited her husband.

This complete story is told in the headline of a recent article in The Daily Mail: Duchess of Alba, who died aged 88, leaves NOTHING to her 64-year-old toyboy while her six children get the 3 billion fortune – and a palace each.”

Will this move stand up in court?

Normally in Spain, as in the United States, you cannot cut a spouse out of an estate. However, in this case, an agreement was made before the wedding that the Duchess’ new spouse would not receive any portion of her estate.

This agreement was made to ensure that her children did not object to the marriage.

Similar prenuptial arrangements can often be made in the United States. As long as the agreements are fair and voluntary, courts will generally uphold them as valid. In the absence of such an agreement, a spouse is always entitled to a portion of the estate.

These agreements are often a good idea when both spouses are independently wealthy and at least one of them has children from a previous marriage.

If you have questions about whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you and your intended, then consult an experienced estate planning attorney for advice.

Reference: Daily Mail (November 20, 2014) Duchess of Alba, who died aged 88, leaves NOTHING to her 64-year-old toyboy while her six children get the  3 billion fortune – and a palace each

For more information on asset preservation and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.