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Prenuptial Agreements

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 marriage. 

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 wedding.

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:

  1. List all assets, liabilities, income, and expectations of gifts and inheritances.

  2. Describe how premarital debts will be paid.

  3. 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 divorce.

  4. Decide who, or if both of you, will own the marital residence and secondary homes in the event of death or divorce.

  5. Specify the status of gifts, inheritances, and trusts either spouse receives or benefits from, whether before or after marriage.

  6. Clarify what will happen to each type of property, whether jointly or individually owned, such as real estate, artwork and jewelry.

  7. Figure out alimony, maintenance, or spousal support, or provide for a waiver or property settlement instead of support (to the extent allowable by law).

  8. Detail death benefits, stating what you will provide for in your will.

  9. 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 hope. 





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