Warning: White Lotus Season 2 finale spoilers ahead!
If you haven’t been watching White Lotus, then please inform us of what shows you’re watching because they must be more captivating than the pearl-clutching HBO series that has gone viral… White Lotus, created by Mike White, has been a TV sensation for the last few weeks of 2022. The Season 2 episodes averaged 10.1 million viewers, up 50% from Season 1! Jennifer Coolidge is the queen of main character energy (per usual) and brings the performance of a lifetime (yes—better than Legally Blonde. Insane, right?). Still, after the finale on December 11th, there were so many questions leaving all of us gripping to an Italian cliff on the side of Sicily. What was Greg hiding? Did Greg really set up this elaborate plan to kill Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge’s character)? Did he get all her money after all?! And what about Ethan and Daphne–what did they do on that beach? Did Cameron and Harper actually do more than just make out?! The list goes on and on…
‘Til death do us part? (Does Greg get the money?)
The unfortunate ending we screamed into the pillow about was Tanya as the victim of this season’s mystery (I know… who kills off Jennifer Coolidge? What an HBO thing to do). What transpired was basically a murder plot (by Greg and Quentin) to take all of Tanya’s money by killing her. And by all of Tanya’s money, we mean like hundreds of millions of dollars and some insanely cute outfits that were giving Monica Vitti vibes. Tanya made it clear that their prenup provided Greg with nothing in a divorce, but if she dies… That’s a different story. The show insinuates that if Tanya dies, then Greg gets all of her money. And the outfits.
Fast forward to the end: Tanya murders Quentin, and his gang of criminals, with a gun she found on Quentin’s yacht. She kills nearly everyone and tries to escape from the boat. Unfortunately, she falls and hits her head, and drowns. Such a Tanya way to go, and hoping that she had enough wine for it not to be too painful. Regardless, Tanya got revenge on Quentin and served some serious justice despite losing her life in one of the most beautiful places in the world in an absolutely horrific way.
So, did Greg’s plan work after all? Greg probably didn’t plan on Tanya murdering all the “gays” (as Tanya calls them), but it may have worked out for him in the long run since he doesn’t have to split up Tanya’s fortune with them. So, does Greg win?? The answer—probably, yes. Greg probably got Tanya’s money. While their prenup said he gets nothing upon divorce, Greg was likely her only heir and, thus, the recipient of her millions.
So what can we take away from this besides the fact that Jennifer Coolidge is in her prime, and meeting strangers in foreign countries could come with a cost? Let’s break it down:
The importance of estate planning
Prenups are essential when you’re living, but can only go so far when you’ve been on a boat with criminals and end up losing your life. An estate plan, including a Trust and a Will in conjunction with a prenup, is essential in making sure your wishes for your assets are carried out regardless of circumstance… Based on her reaction to realizing Greg’s plot to kill her, it leads us to believe she either didn’t have an estate plan detailing what to do with her assets or she named Greg as the main heir to her estate. Either way, she could have protected herself from a gold-digging, cheating spouse with a simple estate plan naming someone else as the heir. Her best bet probably would have been to name Portia or some charity of her choosing as her heir. This likely would have deterred Greg from plotting to murder her, as he wouldn’t get anything if she died.
What is a death clause, and how could it have helped? A death clause in a prenup can be many things, but in this scenario, it can be something you can add that ensures your separate property will not automatically become marital property upon death and refers to your estate plan for clarity. In other words, the death clause says that if you or your spouse dies, the terms of the prenup will remain in effect as though you were alive (i.e., separate property will remain separate). And whoever are the recipients of your estate (cough, cough, this is where estate planning comes in handy) will receive those separate assets, and not your spouse, who’s on their fourth marriage and clearly looking to get a free ride like Greg (that is, if you exclude your spouse from your estate).
Theory: Quentin and Greg were plotting to set up Tanya to cheat (breaking the infidelity clause)
Okay, so there have been some fan theories ahead of the season finale on December 11th. One of them was that Greg and Quentin were actually plotting to set up Tanya to get caught cheating, thus breaking her infidelity clause in her prenup. The theory is that the prenup states if Tanya cheats, then the prenup is void. If the prenup is void, then Greg will be subject to regular divorce laws and will likely receive some of Tanya’s assets. In contrast, if the prenup stands, then Greg gets nothing. So Greg really wants that prenup nullified. Null prenup = more money for Greg.
However, what this theory doesn’t consider, or maybe Greg wouldn’t have thought through, is that infidelity clauses are hard to enforce. Many states will not entertain an infidelity clause and may strike it or throw out the entire contract altogether. Chances are, Greg would have been SOL with this theory!
Ethan and Harper–Do they have a prenup?!
One of the main points of contention in this season was Ethan and Harper’s rocky relationship. Do they love each other or secretly hate each other? It was hard to tell. But one thing was for sure: money definitely changed their relationship.
Let’s talk about Ethan and Harper’s finances hypothetically. It is made very clear that Ethan is extremely wealthy from a business he created. It seems that the couple started with nothing but then became rich from Ethan’s business venture. Without a prenup, it is very likely that in a divorce, Harper would get a piece of Ethan’s “pie.” Harper could potentially be awarded a significant sum of money based on the value of Ethan’s equity in the business, or maybe she’d get a larger portion of Ethan’s other assets, such as retirement funds or real estate, in lieu of the business. There are several ways that Harper could end up taking a significant chunk of Ethan’s net worth without a prenup. On the flip side, had Ethan and Harper had a prenup, Ethan could have protected any businesses he created, including any interests, earned income, and appreciation on said business. In addition, by talking about finances and getting on the same page about their goals during the marriage, perhaps they would have mitigated a lot of the fights or disagreements on the show (or perhaps not because it is HBO, and we’re totally here for the rollercoaster of emotions, but you get what we mean).
Final Thoughts and Predictions for Season 3
Mike White is a genius, and we are so excited to see what’s to come for Season 3, although sad that Jennifer Coolidge will be left out. However, our predictions for the next Season include a huge plot twist where Tanya actually had an estate plan in place and named Portia as her heir!! So, Portia takes her new fortune and buys her and Albie another White Lotus vacay, and they have another wonderfully horrific time and try not to die!
So what’s the takeaway from Tanya’s tragedy? Choose your spouse wisely, get on the same page prior to your marriage in a prenup that designates a death clause, and create an estate plan with a Trust and a Will (just in case you end up on a boat with a bunch of criminals you just met in Sicily).
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]