Brief Fact Summary. Appellants contend that Respondent waived her right to an elective share of her husband’s estate. Respondent seeks to invoke this right claiming that the waiver was invalid.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A valid wavier of a spouse’s elective share must be made in a signed contract but only after a fair disclosure.
Each party has a duty to consider and evaluate the information received before signing an agreement since they are not assumed to have lost their judgmental faculties because of their pending marriage.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Did the trial court err in holding that a waiver of elective share was void because the Respondent did not receive the required fair disclosure?
Held. No. Affirmed. A valid waiver must be based on a fair disclosure by the other party. Here there was evidence to support a finding that the Respondent did not have knowledge of the value of her husband’s estate.
Discussion. The right of election of a surviving spouse may be waived by a written signed contract but only after fair disclosure. Although “fair disclosure” had not been defined by this state the Court looked to what is required in other states in antenuptial agreement. In such agreements the spouses should be given information concerning the approximate net worth of the other spouse. Here the Court found enough evidence to support the trial court’s finding that Mrs. Geddings had no real or general knowledge of the total extent of her husband’s assets and therefore the waiver was invalid.