In the past, creating a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement (also known as “prenup” or “postnup”) seemed to be limited only to the rich and famous. However, over the years, the trend has become a more advantageous estate planning tool for couples from all walks of life, both millennials and professional men and women getting married later in life.
Although the concept of creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may be controversial, it does serve a logical purpose.
In a nutshell, a prenuptial agreement provides a legal framework for your future, in the case of the marriage ending either in divorce or death.
If you pass on the prenuptial agreement and later decide you need to construct an agreement after you tie the knot, you are in luck. A postnuptial agreement will provide all the same pertinent factors as the prenuptial agreement: i.e., division of property, assets, and maintenance payments in the event of divorce or death.
A key benefit to creating these contracts is it gives you the opportunity to take control of the law versus the law deciding your rights for you. It also will save you potential costly litigation fees down the road in the event a divorce takes place.
Who needs a prenuptial agreement?
- A prenuptial agreement makes sense if you or your partner have children from a previous marriage or relationship, and you want to make sure their interests are protected.
- If you have or think you will receive an inheritance in the future, a prenuptial agreement is a smart idea.
- A prenuptial agreement may also allow you to avoid becoming responsible for your spouse’s debts.
- If you own a business before the marriage, a prenuptial agreement can detail the exact parameters so there is no conflict down the road and helps protect the business from claims by your spouse.
- Anyone who wants to be sure their estate will go to the beneficiaries they choose without claims from your spouse.
Here are a few tips as you consider this decision:
- Start the conversation early while you are still dating.
- Work together and decide the terms so it is a win-win for both.
- Be honest about your spending habits, assets, and debt (credit cards, student loans, etc.)
- Listen to your partner's concerns and address each.
- Don’t rush - take your time to craft and review the contract thoroughly.
- Leave a little flexibility for any major life changes.
- If you are utilizing a prenuptial agreement, be sure the process is completed well before the marriage date to avoid claims of pressure or undue influence later.
Be aware there are a few exceptions to what you can include in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, so it is important to consult with an attorney to be sure you have everything covered. In addition, each partner must hire their own private attorney to avoid any conflicts down the road.
At Stone Legal Group, PLLC, we will work with you to ensure your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement integrates seamlessly with your estate plan so you can be sure your entire estate will be distributed in accordance with your wishes.
Even though this might feel uncomfortable, it is a great exercise in communication and learning how to work together as partners. After all, talking about money is one of the most important subjects you will face as a couple. Doing it now will ease your mind, so you are free to live “happily ever after”.