Summer is approaching. Amid sunshine and warm weather come weddings. Although a great deal of preparation goes into every detail of a wedding ceremony and reception, discussing legal and financial implications of the union often takes a backseat in the planning. As part of their preparation for marriage, betrothed couples should discuss whether a prenuptial agreement makes sense in their circumstances.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement (frequently referred to as a “prenup”) is a written contract two people sign before they marry each other. Among other provisions, the prenup details how the couple will manage assets during their marriage and what will happen to their assets should they divorce, separate, or when one person dies. A prenup can override the law and legal rights people acquire upon marriage.
What does a prenuptial agreement cover?
Couples can craft a prenup to fit their specific needs which could include:
- defining the role each spouse will have in household management and child-rearing,
- specifying how assets are owned and managed now and in the future,
- providing for financial support (ie alimony) or the waiver of such in the event of a divorce,
- disposing of assets if one spouse dies or the parties separate, divorce, or if some other event occurs.
Who should get a prenuptial agreement?
If any of the following circumstances are present for a couple, careful consideration should be given to executing a prenuptial agreement:
- One or both people have been married before.
- One or both people have children from prior relationships.
- One or both people have considerable assets they are bringing into the marriage.
- One or both people have considerable debts they are bringing into the marriage.
- One person is much wealthier or has far greater income than the other.
- One or both people want to leave their estate to people other than their future spouse.
What are the requirements of a prenuptial agreement?
The legal requirements for a valid prenuptial agreement will differ depending on where you live. It is important to obtain advice from an attorney where you live who drafts prenups as part of their practice. Generally, prenups are executed in contemplation of marriage. This means that a prenup is prepared and signed before marriage. It is best to begin the negotiation and preparation of the prenup far in advance of the wedding. Ample time is necessary for both parties to review the draft prenup and consult with an attorney or other professional about its terms. Additionally, try not to sign a prenup days before the wedding as that could invite skepticism if in a future challenge.
Will talking about a prenuptial agreement sour the marriage?
No. A prenup should be a topic most people discuss when contemplating marriage. Research shows that couples who talk about finances regularly are happier than couples who do not. Even if it feels uncomfortable at first, having financial chats with your partner will get easier. Just start the conversation. Discuss money and legal implications before and throughout your marriage. You will be glad that you did.