Understanding Prenuptial Agreements (AKA, Pre-Nup)


Understanding Prenuptial Agreements

What is a Pre-Nup?

Definition: prenuptial agreement, (premarital agreement), prenuptial agreements, prenup:

A prenuptial agreement (also known as an antenuptial agreement, premarital agreement or prenup) is a signed and notarized agreement made by a couple before marriage that concerns various financial issues such as the control and possession of property and other assets taken into the marriage and later obtained during the marriage either individually or jointly, as well as the couple’s future earnings, and how such property or assets will be distributed in the event of divorce or death.

Who Would Benefit From One?

Although many couples might not find signing documents such as a prenuptial agreement to be very romantic, if either you and/or your fiancé have been divorced , you probably already know how valuable a prenup can be.

Couples with significant assets or those with children should consider having an attorney draft a prenuptial agreement or, at the least, download prenuptial agreement forms to create your own prenup or get examples of how prenups should look or be worded, and maybe save yourself some money too.

Couples without a prenup will have their assets distributed for them by the state if the marriage ends and they disagree about who should get what. Without this important prenuptial agreement document you are allowing your financial future to be determined by the state.

Discuss the prenup possibilities. Believe it or not, having this prenup discussion might actually help build a mutual trust and relieve some anxiety about getting married. Communication is key in any relationship, so begin to strengthen this skill now by talking about the hard stuff.

How Do Pre-Nups Work?

A prenup can help protect funds either spouse may have saved for a child’s college education or their own retirement, prior to the marriage. Having this prenuptial agreement drawn up before the wedding can save you time, emotional trauma and of course, money if the marriage does happen to fail.

Sit down with your partner and make a list of all assets. You will be best served by contacting a prenup attorney in your state who specializes in divorce and remarriage. Each partner should hire their own attorney. This helps avoid any charges of fraud if the marriage ends in divorce.

If either partner has children from a previous marriage, clarify their property rights and how they’ll be supported, both during the marriage and in case of death or divorce. The attorneys co-write the prenuptial agreement with their clients’ best interests in mind. Use any combination of prenuptial agreements, living trusts, custodial accounts and wills.

The prenuptial agreement should be signed in triplicate, each partner getting an original copy, and a third copy kept with an independent lawyer, CPA or in a bank’s safety deposit box. A prenuptial agreement can offer much needed peace of mind and security.

Please be advised that consulting an attorney in your state, even after reading and/or completing any free or purchased prenuptial agreement templates or forms and/or books is highly recommended. Each partner should obtain and hire their own attorney for personal representation.

Prenuptial Agreement Checklist

  • Prepare a prenuptial agreement. Hire an attorney or download prenup forms online.
  • Both partners should disclose all assets.
  • Write new wills or update existing wills.
  • Update and/or purchase insurance policies.
  • Decide how to hold title to property(s).

What Can And Can’t Be In A Prenuptial Agreement?

Generally, a marriage contract can deal with the following:

  • Division of property on separation
  • Ownership of property (what is owned jointly and what is owned separately)
  • Inheritance of property
  • Spousal support obligations
  • The right to direct the education and moral training of any children
  • Cannot deal with custody of or access to children from a previous marriage or relationship
  • Cannot deal with child support issues
  • In a marriage contract, the right to remain in the matrimonial home cannot be included
  • In a marriage contract, the right to sell or transfer the matrimonial home cannot be included

There are a number of prenup limitations to marriage contracts or cohabitation agreements.

Other Important Legal Tools

Premarital agreements are not the only way to ensure that your property is distributed according to your wishes. Revising existing wills and trusts or creating new ones can also accomplish this. You’ll also want to review beneficiary designations on retirement plans and life insurance policies.

Brides – if you’re changing your name, don’t forget to change your name on all legal documents. Download a name change form to streamline that process and to get a list of the typical documents that need to be changed. Just make sure all your financial and legal papers are up to date and consistent with one another. Otherwise, your former spouse could end up with an unintended bequest or your assets could go to your new spouse and your kids could wind up with nothing.

The bottom line: When you’re planning your wedding, assemble a team of experts to help. But don’t stop with the caterer and photographer. Consult your lawyer, financial planner and life insurance agent on how to title your property, hold your money and pass on your wealth before you tie the knot. if you’re living in NY, PA or CT contact this Elder Law Attorney for professional wills, trusts and prenup agreement preparation.

More information on prenuptial agreements:

Suggested Posts

Simple Wedding Gowns

A second walk down the aisle or a vow renewal with your best friend, sometimes you just want something simple and elegant. Check out these casual wedding gowns that show off the most important part of the day: you! Simple and sensual, this gown has movement and and ease about it that we love for …

Share

Whether for your second time around you want to go extravagant, quirky or keep it simple, the wedding meal is often the deciding factor. Gone are the days of the classic chicken or salmon option, now brides and grooms are turning to more unusual options such as tapa-style eating, food bars, and barbecues. Although catering …

Share
vow renewal dress

Question: My husband and I have been married for 10 years. I already purchased a dress I fear is too formal and need suggestions to “down play” it. I hear it would be better to wear my hair down with not elaborate jewelry? I am not wearing a veil or gloves. The dress has a …

Share
second wedding rings

  How to Choose Your Second Wedding Rings You are definitely older and more than likely wiser – time has a way of doing that to us. And as we evolve our tastes tend to change. What may have been appealing a decade or two earlier may not have the same attraction as it does …

Share

Going the traditional wedding route isn’t always an option for a second or third wedding, as many would rather try for a different type of ceremony. Planning a modern midlife wedding doesn’t have to include a church, a big white dress, or any of the other staples normally associated with nuptials. Check out a few …

Share

  Wording Second Wedding Announcements Even though this might be a second wedding for bride, groom or both, you’ll still want to share the happy news that you’ve been married. Wedding announcements are sent only to those people not invited to the wedding, but who need to know that the marriage took place. The recipients …

Share