Couple watching HBO's White Lotus and learning what it teaches about prenups.

4 minute read

What HBO’s White Lotus Teaches us about Prenups

Could an Estate Plan have Saved Tanya’s Life? Trust & Will conducts a debrief of White Lotus Season 2’s shocking conclusion.

Spoiler Alert! The following is a discussion of HBO’s White Lotus Season 2 and contains spoilers! Proceed with caution.

HBO’s Emmy Award-winning ‘The White Lotus’ just concluded its mouth-gaping second season, and viewers were left flabbergasted. According to Variety Magazine, 4.1 million viewers tuned in for the season finale in the U.S., which is more than double compared to the first season’s penultimate episode. 

The beloved Tanya (played by Jennifer Coolidge) returned with big main character energy this season, where she met her tragic (albeit hilariously derpy) end. The cliff-hanging ending left fans with many questions unanswered. 

What was Greg, Tanya’s husband, discussing over the hushed phone calls? Was Tanya overly paranoid, or was there really an elaborate plan to murder her for her wealth? What was Greg’s involvement? Would Greg have successfully inherited Tanya’s riches?

Trust & Will puts ‘The White Lotus’ prenup theories to the test.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

At the conclusion of Season 1 of ‘The White Lotus,’ endearing Tanya McQuoid meets Greg. Season 2  begins, and it’s apparent that the romantic pair are now married,  but things already appear to be amiss. 

Greg seems tense and acts suspiciously, taking numerous hushed phone calls and being rude to Tanya. Halfway through the trip, he insists that he has to leave for work and leaves Tanya behind in Sicily. 

Based on his suspicious behavior, Tanya becomes worried. She reveals that she made Greg sign a prenup, which would prevent him from getting any of her riches if they were to divorce. 

A prenup, short for prenuptial agreement, is a legal contract made between two individuals before they get married. The prenup allows the couple to make arrangements in advance regarding how to handle property, assets, and debts should they ever get a divorce. Popular media often portrays prenups as a tool used by the wealthy (à la Tanya), but they have become increasingly commonplace. Many modern couples view prenups as a proactive method of putting protections in place, as well as to put measures of conflict resolution in place at a time when they are agreeable. 

However, in Tanya’s case, her wealth tends to be a cause of anxiety and paranoia. At first, she surmises that he would keep an affair under wraps for this reason. Later on, she realizes that something darker may be going on. If she died, Greg could get all of her money. 

The death clause & Slayer Statute 

As the nail-biting plot reveals itself, Tanya begins to piece together that Greg might not be cheating on her, but is actually plotting her murder. 

She encounters British expat Quentin and his group of friends. Appearing to be a group of gay, wealthy men that faun over her, she finds the new friendship unthreatening and gladly trusts them enough to go to their villa. However, strange things begin to happen and she pieces together a theory that Greg and Quentin are plotting her murder as a part of a con to get her money. (Some fans think that Greg may have been conning her from the very beginning!) 

Here, there are two ways that Tanya may have protected herself and prevented her demise. First and foremost, the prenup could have included a death clause. Such a clause would have stated that Tanya’s separate property would not become marital property if she passed away. In the event of her death, the prenup would stay in effect as though she were alive. Her separate property would remain separate and be passed on to the beneficiaries of her estate. 

It is likely that Tanya’s prenup did not include a death clause, as Greg does not seem concerned about this outcome. (To be clear, the show never circles back to Greg, so viewers are forced to use their imaginations to connect many dots.)

Second, Greg may not have attempted Tanya’s murder in the first place had he been aware of the Slayer Statute. The law states that a murderer cannot inherit property from their victim’s estate. A beneficiary who is suspected for being involved in the victim’s murder also cannot inherit property until they are cleared of that suspicion. Although Greg may have done a pretty good job of creating an alibi for himself, he must have been pretty confident that he would not be linked to the incident by authorities. 

The infidelity clause theory

Many viewers were also raising their eyebrows at Quentin making a big deal about setting Tanya up with a “heterosexual hunk”. Is it possible that the prenup contained an infidelity clause? It’s possible that Greg and Quentin were making arrangements such that Tanya would get caught cheating. If so, she would have violated the infidelity clause of the prenup. If there was a resulting divorce, then Greg may have gotten at least some of Tanya’s assets as reparations. 

However, the show leaves this possible plotline unanswered. We do not witness Tanya actually cheat on Greg, but it begs the question — if she had cheated, would it have, in some backward way, saved her life? We will never know.

Who won in the end?

In a very White Lotus-esque twist, the murder of Tanya McQuoid never actually happens. 

As she becomes more and more convinced that “the gays are trying to murder her,” she makes a last-ditch effort to save herself. Tanya, Quentin, et al are all on a yacht, supposedly on their way to take her back to the White Lotus. She finds a gun and winds up shooting everyone on the yacht. In an attempt to jump onto the escape dinghy, she hits her head and drowns in the ocean. Ironically, even after getting some justice, she dies anyway.

Viewers are left scratching their heads. Who actually gets to inherit Tanya’s riches? While it’s impossible to tell without viewing Tanya’s actual prenuptial and estate planning documents, one theory is that Greg still gets all of her money. 

The show insinuates that Greg’s only loophole in the prenup is if Tanya were to predecease him. If Greg were truly plotting her murder, then one can assume that the prenup didn’t have a death clause. Tanya seems like an extremely lonely character with no family, meaning that it’s possible that Greg would be her sole heir.

The other reason that Greg may have wound up the winner in the shocking plot-twist is because he didn’t plan on Tanya taking out all the “gays” before she died. This means that the plan to murder her never came to fruition, leaving Greg’s hands relatively unsoiled. (Technically, plotting a murder is a crime, but it would be very hard to prove at this point.) Moreover, Greg no longer has to split his inheritance with his fellow con artists. 

What we can all learn from Tanya: always have an estate plan in place

A lesson we can all learn from Tanya is the importance of having an Estate Plan in place. It dawns on her that Greg may be in cahoots with Quentin on a plan to murder her. Based on her reaction, it’s very likely that Greg would successfully inherit her fortune if he succeeds. 

Viewers can draw the probable conclusion that Tanya did not have a death clause in her prenup, and further, she may not have had a satisfactory Estate Plan in place. Although someone as wealthy as Tanya may have had an Estate Plan, it likely was drawn up in a way that Greg would still inherit most of her wealth. 

While hindsight is 20/20, and we don’t usually plan on our husbands murdering us, it’s always a smart idea to protect yourself and have a backup plan. Having an Estate Plan in addition to your prenuptial agreement will help make sure that your property is distributed in a way you wish. If Tanya was so careful to draw up a prenup to protect her assets from Greg, then she probably should have named a beneficiary through her Estate Plan, such as a charity. (Or another plot twist — Portia!) If Greg was made aware that he would not have inherited her wealth if she passed away, then this attempt to murder her may have never happened in the first place.

Did White Lotus get you thinking about your own Estate Plan? Don’t fall victim to Tanya’s estate planning shortcomings! Putting your Will and/or Trust in place can give you a great peace of mind. At Trust & Will, we’re here to help keep things simple. You can create a fully customizable, state-specific estate plan from the comfort of your own home in just 20 minutes. Take our free quiz to see where you should get started, or compare our different estate planning and settlement  options today!

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