Wills – Contract to Devise – Rights of Subsequent Spouse With Notice of Prior Contract at Time of Marriage

Decedent and his first wife executed reciprocal wills pursuant to a contract appearing on the face of the instruments. Each gave the other a life estate, with remainders to substantially identical beneficiaries. After his first wife’s death, decedent remarried and in an antenuptial contract agreed to bequeath a sum of money to his second wife in lieu of all her claims against his estate. The second wife had actual notice of the prior agreement at the time of their marriage. Decedent then executed a new will which expressly revoked all prior wills, confirmed the terms of the antenuptial contract, and made further dispositions inconsistent with the first will. After his death the beneficiaries of the first will sought to impress decedent’s estate with a trust in their favor. The trial court allowed their claim, but directed that the lien on the estate should be inferior to the antenuptial contract rights of the widow. On appeal, held, affirmed. The agreement embodied in the reciprocal will cannot be enforced against the widow’s rights, even if she had actual notice of that agreement at the time of her marriage. Boner’s Admx. v. Chesnut’s Exr., (Ky. 1958) 317 S.W. (2d) 867.