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Estate Planning Lessons From The McCourt Saga

Many sports fans are familiar with the recent developments in the case between Frank and Jamie McCourt.  For those who have not followed the story, Frank McCourt is the current owner and chairman of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which he purchased for $430 million in 2004.  Jamie McCourt is his (soon to be former) spouse.  The McCourts have gone through a lengthy and, at times, messy divorce proceeding that has threatened Frank’s ownership interest in the Dodgers.  It has recently been announced that the McCourts have reached a settlement in their divorce case which involves Jamie relinquishing her claim to the Dodgers in exchange for a promise from Frank to pay her $130 million.

One of the key disputes in the proceedings was an argument over the validity of a postnuptial agreement that granted Frank sole ownership of the Dodgers, which was thrown out by a California court last year.  The judge found that there wasn’t a mutual understanding between Jamie and Frank about what the pact spelled out when they signed it in March 2004, shortly after the purchase of the team.  The 10-page document has since become a lesson in how to fail in the drafting and execution of a postnuptial agreement.  For example, two conflicting versions were signed, and both McCourts acknowledged they had not even read the agreement, something the judge highlighted in his ruling.

Postnuptial agreements are largely similar to prenuptial agreements, with the main exception being that they are entered into by the parties after the marriage.  In Florida, there are certain formalities that must be observed to make either a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that is valid and enforceable in a court of law.  If issues arise such as those which occurred in the McCourt case, then the agreement may not be upheld.

It is always advisable that the parties to a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement retain separate counsel before they sign anything.  If you are interesting in creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, or have been asked to sign one, contact an Attorney in Jacksonville who can assist you today.