Getting married is an exciting time of your life. Your emotions are
running high and you have great hope about the future of your wedded
bliss. The hardest thing to do may be the wisest. It is
particularly important to create a prenuptial agreement (also
referred to as premarital agreements and marriage contracts) that
reflects both of your intent with regard to your financial matters.
Asking each other hard questions about how you see finances in the
marriage, may save you pain and money later and might even save your
It is tough to discuss splitting assets and
assigning debts before you say "I do", but you must be able to
communicate at this level before your nuptials or you will not have
communication in your marriage.
A prenuptial agreement is a private agreement
between two persons contemplating marriage. The couple generally
settles, in advance, financial matters in the event of death or
divorce. "Lifestyle" or non-financial topics also may be included.
The contract overrides and preempts state, family and probate laws
that otherwise would apply.
There are three basic rules that should be
followed to safeguard your agreement: full and fair disclosure,
separate and independent counsel, and ample lead-time before the
What should be included in a prenup?
In order to best safeguard your union, there are
certain key issues you should include in your prenup. Be sure to
review the following with your soon-to-be spouse:
List all assets, liabilities, income, and
expectations of gifts and inheritances.
Describe how premarital debts will be paid.
Resolve what happens to your premarital
property in reference to appreciation, gains, income, rentals,
dividends and proceeds of such property- in the event of death or
Decide who, or if both of you, will own the
marital residence and secondary homes in the event of death or
Specify the status of gifts, inheritances, and
trusts either spouse receives or benefits from, whether before or
Clarify what will happen to each type of
property, whether jointly or individually owned, such as real
estate, artwork and jewelry.
Figure out alimony, maintenance, or spousal
support, or provide for a waiver or property settlement instead of
support (to the extent allowable by law).
Detail death benefits, stating what you will
provide for in your will.
Decide on medical, disability, life or
long-term-care insurance coverage..
Many people fail to enter into a prenuptial
agreement, because they believe it destroys that feeling of "being
in love" or they feel like they are entering into a marriage
expecting failure. However, an agreement like this can force
couples to discuss the hard issues and to have a relationship that
they can talk about all things and still love each other enough to
get married. A marriage based on communication, knowledge and
reality is stronger than a relationship built on fantasy and false
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