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Christopher S. Mulvaney

MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC does not do Prenuptial Agreements.

However, I believe that executing your estate plan before you draft a Prenuptial Agreement has value because it identifies and labels all of the property owned before marriage.

RCW 26.16.120 gives spouses the right to agree to property division.

Many other rights are contained in Title 26 Section 16.

Married people in Community Property states such as Washington have the right to hold separate property during marriage.

Holding Separate Property during marriage does not require the consent of a spouse for property owned before marriage, gifts, inheritance, and pain and suffering damages which are all presumed to be Separate Property. However, proceeding with your spouse’s knowledge and written consent is best.

Key to enforceability is not commingling Separate Property with Community Property. Doing so creates a blended asset which can be difficult, time consuming and expensive to separate. Separate Property is like a tax deduction – if you can’t prove it, then you can’t take it.

Increasing enforceability of a Prenuptial Agreement requires each Party to have their own Counsel.

I believe that having one lawyer prepare estate plans for both Parties is best. The Parties waive potential conflicts of interest and each agree that they can hire their own lawyers at any time. Since I represent both Parties, I have to be fair to both and cannot keep confidences from either Party from each other. I also can never represent one Party against the other because of conflicts of interest. This promotes harmony and communication between the Parties.

Prenuptial Agreements attempt to address two main issues:

  1. Attempting to add to Separate Property during marriage; and
  2. Attempting to limit or eliminate Spousal Support in the event of Divorce.

Prenuptial Agreements are less enforceable the closer they are executed to the date of marriage.

Prenups should be signed at least six (6) months prior to the wedding in order to be knowing and voluntary and not subject to undue influence.

A Divorce Court can void a Prenuptial Agreement in whole or in part to the extent that it is not fair and equitable.

A Prenuptial Agreement can also be voided by the conduct of the Parties in not following their Agreement.

I believe that each Party listing and sharing assets and debts has value. Learning to talk about financial issues effectively during marriage has value and reduces disputes. If you start doing so when you each have your own lawyers, I believe you are more likely to each have your own lawyers in divorce. By learning to communicate if you do end up divorced, I believe it is more likely to be an uncontested divorce by mail which is permitted in Washington State.

I believe that having accounts in your name as Trustee of your Separate Property Trust into which gifts and inheritance can be deposited has value. It is a hedge against divorce and a hedge against disinheritance of children if you predecease them and your spouse remarries someone who likes their own kids better than yours. This is what happened to Cinderella. If Cinderella’s father would have had a Separate Property Trust as a Married Person, then the story would have been very boring because Cinderella would have had the irrevocable gift from her father that the step-mother couldn’t touch.

I had a case in which a father linked his bank account to his daughter’s Married Separate Property Trust Account so that he could give his daughter as much as he wanted whenever he wanted. This had the effect of empowering his daughter because she had her own money and could leave if she wanted to do so. Her husband had to be nice to her and treat her well, which is exactly what the father intended to accomplish.

I believe writing down how you are going to care for your Spouse, Children, Parents, Siblings, Charities, Churches and others has value. Doing so reduces anxiety and reduces disputes. Having some mortality awareness tends to make people behave in kinder ways and to have more gratitude.

I believe naming your Healthcare Agents and stating whether you want to be an Organ Donor has value. In the Terri Schiavo case, her parents and her husband litigated for 15 years (1990 to 2005) all the way to the Supreme Court before she died because she did not have a Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will.

I believe that stating whether you want your Healthcare Agent to “pull the plug” and whether you want food and water after that is done has value. Being on a ventilator is more likely because of the global pandemic. These are not the type of issues you want your family to fight about.

I believe that having appointing Mental/Behavioral Health Agent (including addiction issues) has value. Knowing how to both grant and restrict access to your sensitive Healthcare information can protect you from unauthorized access or use. Having some awareness of people’s issues with mental illness or addiction makes us all better and more compassionate human beings.

All of these things are included in Estate Planning. None are included in Prenuptial Agreements.

That is why MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC does not do Prenuptial Agreements.

The first step is making sure the documents are accurate, that you understand them, and they reflect your wishes.  We can go over the asset list after your estate plan reflects your wishes if you would like to, but we don’t have to.  Doing so is technically outside the scope of legal insurance coverage, but if questions are minor (which they usually are) we don’t have to have a written discounted fee agreement for me to assist you.  

It is possible, for $500 for me to go through each beneficiary designation, payable on death, or titling in the name of the Trust as well as the letter of instruction, supporting materials, digital pictures, and contact information.  However, once I record the Transfer on Death Deed and people look at the sample Beneficiary Designations I put in the shared folder, they decide that they can do the personalization of their plan to their specific account numbers themselves.

After that, any time you want (even years in the future) you can update the spreadsheet and letter of instruction as well as add any documents you wish.  The link in the Trust will always be to the most current version of what is in shared folder.  

The idea is to make electronic sharing easier, so that you you can let your loved ones know where you keep the paper documents to round out your financial picture.  I suggest keeping redundant electronic and paper records like most people do for their taxes, and keeping estate planning documents with tax records.  This is especially helpful since one of the duties of estate administration is to file the final tax return of the deceased.

Legal Services Offered





While my practice is centered on helping consumers get out of debt and protect themselves and their families in the event of death or incapacity, I am happy to offer additional legal services to my existing estate planning and bankruptcy clients.

Are you worried about mounting debt?

Or facing a Judgment, Garnishment or Foreclosure?

Have you been putting off getting an estate plan for too long?

I offer my clients legal counsel regarding foreclosure, buying and selling real estate, Transfer on Death Deeds, and real estate matters generally.  

MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC does not do litigation.

Christopher S. Mulvaney’s Mission:

To Always Be a Human Being First – and My Role Second. 

To First, Do No Harm, then to provide the best legal outcome, smoothest process, best value, and to make a positive difference in the life of every client.

Christopher S. Mulvaney’s Mantra:

May I be filled with loving kindness for all life.

May I be safe from dangers within and without.

May I be healthy in body, mind, socially, and spiritually.

May I be at ease and happy doing good in the world.

Every client is an estate planning client. 

Additional services related to debt, bankruptcy, and real estate are available to estate planning clients.

I offer initial ZOOM legal consultations to prospective estate planning and bankruptcy clients for two reasons:

(1) determining if the issues are within my practice areas (the “wheelhouse“), and

(2) determining whether a potential client is willing to let me lead them to the best likelihood of achieving a favorable outcome with the smoothest process of getting there. 


DISCLAIMER:  The use of email or this form for communication with MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC does not establish an Attorney-Client Relationship. Time-sensitive information should not be sent through this Form or through email.  Confidential information can be uploaded into a shared encrypted folder after you have made initial contact with me.

For more information about my practice in Bellevue, Washington, please consult my Blog.

  • Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, Issaquah, Sammamish, Maple Valley, Burien, SeaTac, and throughout King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties.

If you have read this far, you may be interested to know what I need to explain to potential clients very quickly which is the intersection in the Venn Diagram above of my practice areas and insurance coverage. As you can see the numbers of case types that are not in my practice areas is large, as is the number of case types that are neither in my practice area nor covered by legal insurance. The intersection is what I call the Wheelhouse. It contains two practice areas – estate planning and bankruptcy that pay all of the bills.

The small miscellaneous bit of my practice which I only do in conjunction with estate planning (bankruptcy is also done in conjunction with estate planning, so every client is an estate planning client. The challenge to me is to quickly explain to prospective clients that the long list of miscellaneous services on the left side of the diagram do not pay the bills – they are simply done to assist my estate planning clients with other matters that are not economical for lawyers to handle in isolation, so they would likely have difficulty finding counsel to assist them.

That is the difference between paying out of pocket by the hour and using flat fee legal insurance. If you are paying by the hour, you have more latitude regarding what the scope of service includes and what it does not. However, if the issue is too small you are not likely to find a lawyer to assist you even if you are willing to pay more than the market hourly rate because many smaller cases interfere with revenue production, increase stress, and increase risk.

That is an important part of why I do what I do the way I do it. There are many lawyers to serve you if you have means, in the manner you wish to be served. However, the majority of middle class and lower middle class people do not have access to legal representation and advice when they need it. In 1979, I heard Jimmy Carter give a speech in which he said that America is over lawyered and under represented. That is more true now than it was then.

I see my niche in the law as representing people in the most economical way possible for the most people, which is through legal insurance. Egalitarian access to legal services affordable by as many people as possible is a value for me. I have the privilege of earning a living in a manner that is consistent with my values. So, if you choose to become a client of MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC I thank you for allowing me to be who I am in my work, and to serve with my whole self – not divorced from consideration for the good of society in the pursuit of forever more profit.