Consider a Prenup Before You Tie the Knot

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A person’s wedding day is one of their most cherished days.  Although a great deal of preparation goes into every detail of the 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, a prenup details how the couple will manage assets during their marriage. It also addresses 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 as a result of their 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 ownership and management of assets 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?

When the following circumstances exist, couples should give careful consideration 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.  A prenup is executed in contemplation of marriage – meaning before the wedding.  It is best to negotiate and prepare a prenup far in advance of the wedding.  Ample time is necessary for both parties to review the draft prenup and consult with an attorney about its terms.  Additionally, signing a prenup a few days before the wedding will invite skepticism if there is a dispute later. 

Will talking about a prenuptial agreement sour the marriage?

No.  A prenuptial agreement should be a topic for discussion by most people contemplating marriage.  Research shows that couples who talk about finances regularly are happier than couples who do not.  Even if it feels uncomfortable, having financial chats with your partner should get easier.  Just start the conversation.  Discuss money and legal implications before and throughout your marriage.  You will be glad that you did.

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