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Should I get a Prenuptial before getting married?

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2024 | Firm News

The prenuptial agreement is a written contract entered into before marriage that establishes the property rights between spouse in the event of death or dissolution of the marriage. Often referred to as “prenups,” these are legal documents that can outline the division of assets, spousal support, and other financial matters.  It certainly is not the most romantic aspect of planning for your wedding, but can provide clarity and peace of mind for those entering into marriage.

When entering into these prenuptial agreements, people are looking to modify or extinguish the property rights that are established as a result of the marriage.  The statutory rights include a homestead allowance, family allowance, exemption in household furnishings, the right to elect against the spouse’s will, and the right to intestate succession. These property rights, inherent because of the marriage, add up to well over $81,000 and are adjusted annually for cost-of-living. However, there are a number of other reasons people look to enter into a prenuptial agreement, often this includes an expected inheritance, financial clarity and management, and protecting assets for kids.

One key aspect to keep in mind when looking into a prenuptial agreement is that transparency is preeminent condition.  Both parties must provide a complete and accurate financial picture to ensure that the prenuptial agreement is fair and fully informed.  Failing to disclose assets or debts may lead to court challenges of the prenuptial agreement in the future, which could put the validity of the prenuptial agreement in jeopardy.

Planning for first marriages.

Prenuptial agreements are uncommon for first marriages.  This is because most first marriages are between parties that are younger and have little to no real asset accumulation; and first marriages typically see the prenuptial process as unromantic. Despite the uncommonness of first marriage prenuptial agreements, when one or both parties have substantial assets or anticipate inheriting family wealth, both present a situation where a prenuptial agreement may be appropriate.

Besides having substantial assets or anticipating a family inheritance, parties who are well settled in a career and marrying for the first time may consider a prenuptial agreement to provide a contractual obligation for the sharing of living expenses – which could include costs and expectations for graduate and professional level schooling.

Planning for second (or subsequent) marriages.

Prenuptial agreements are far more common for people entering into a second or subsequent marriage because people have children and have likely already accumulated significant property during their first marriage.  A properly negotiated and drafted prenuptial agreement can protect each person’s property that they bring into their subsequent marriage.  This practical protection of property can provide that what each party brings into the marriage will pass to their family – and not the step-family, unless specifically provided for otherwise (although it is important to keep in mind that a prenuptial agreement works in tandem with estate planning documents, and does not replace the need for a will or trust).  Just like planning for a first marriage, a prenuptial agreement in second and subsequent marriages can plan for how the parties operate their household expenses, taxes, and any other obligations during the marriage.

Prenuptial agreements can be a valuable tool for couples seeking to protect their financial interests and bring clarity to potential future uncertainties. While a prenuptial agreement is not necessary in every situation, having an open, honest, and yes, even unromantic conversations about premarital planning can help contribute to a healthier understanding and expectation of each other’s financial and property interests.

If you are looking to see if a prenuptial agreement is right in your situation, consulting with Parakletos Law will help you determine what your options are and will walk with you every step of the way from the initial conversation through drafting and signing of your prenuptial agreement.