Just as most people do not like thinking about preparing a will, most engaged couples do not like to consider the need for a prenuptial agreement. Suggesting to a soon-to-be-spouse that you and he/she write a prenup can feel like stating that you do not truly believe this marriage will last. Unfortunately, over 40 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce, so divorce is a fact of life. Preparing a prenuptial does not suggest in any way that you do not expect to stay married to your spouse for the remainder of your natural life; it is simply a document that will help offer protection and potentially prevent expensive and lengthy litigation should the unthinkable occur.
The good thing (or bad depending on how you look at it) is that prenuptial agreements are not right for every couple. They are used most frequently by high net-worth individuals, or by those who have expensive assets they are bringing into a marriage. For example, a spouse who comes to a marriage with a large trust fund or an extensive and expensive art collection may wish to request their betrothed sign a prenup ensuring that they retain sole proprietorship of those items in the event of a divorce.
Rather like a will, a prenuptial can be created to dictate how certain assets should be distributed upon an individual’s death. Let’s say, for example, that Joan has two children from a previous marriage. When she divorced her first husband, they agreed that she would take full possession of a vacation home that the couple had previously owned jointly. It is important to Joan that, upon her death, her children inherit the vacation home. When Joan makes the decision to marry Michael, she can craft a prenuptial agreement that would supersede the laws of the state and guarantee that her children, and not Michael, directly inherit the house.
There is a lot to consider when making the decision to create a prenuptial. Once both parties are on board with the idea, it’s crucial to consult with a family law attorney. He or she can guide couples through the process and ensure that they create a prenuptial agreement that meets the needs of both parties and complies with the laws of the state.