All About Prenuptial Agreements

closeup of a marriage prenuptial agreement

Securing Your Future Together

A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a legal document that outlines the assets of each party prior to a marriage, domestic partnership, or civil union. The document typically outlines the process that will unfold should the marriage or partnership end or upon the demise of either party. The goal of the document is to protect both parties. Rather than forecasting a failed marriage, a prenup protects you and your partner as a result of a death of a spouse or, during a potentially difficult divorce.

Prenuptial agreements are more common in second marriages, whether there was a death of a spouse or divorce from the first marriage, when the individuals have accumulated greater assets, especially if there are children from a first marriage that the parent wants to ensure an inheritance to. In recent years, women are among the most popular to request a legal agreement prior to marriage, domestic partnership, or civil union.

Components of a Prenuptial Agreement

You should consult an attorney to assist with drafting a prenuptial agreement. The document cannot be reasonably unfair to one party. To execute a valid prenup:

  • All parties must enter the agreement voluntarily
  • All parties must fully disclose their assets
  • The document must be signed in the presence of a notary

Although prenups are open for argument, a well-crafted agreement is more likely to be executed without dispute so the process should be taken seriously. A well-crafted agreement should address your future needs and should include information about:

  • Property distribution upon divorce
  • Property distribution upon death
  • Finances
  • Division of assets
  • Alimony obligations
  • Debts
  • Division of tangible items (furniture, jewelry, etc.)

The range of what can be included in a prenup is flexible and can be adjusted to accommodate the needs of you and your partner. However, there are some things that prenuptial agreements cannot dictate, including:

  • Child custody
  • Child visitation
  • Child support
  • Anything illegal
  • Anything that might be thought to encourage divorce

Prenuptial Agreement Review

Sometimes one party is more motivated to sign a prenup. If your spouse has presented you with a prenuptial agreement you should take time to review it thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to ask for time to review the document for accuracy, consult an attorney and ensure your wishes are expressed. Your lawyer will review the document, explain any rights you are giving up and ensure your best interests are reflected.

Legal Costs

Prenuptial agreements are not just for the wealthy and compared to the cost of an average divorce, they are a small price to pay for post-marriage security. Depending on whether your lawyer is drafting or reviewing a prenup, the costs can range from $1,500 to $5,000. The legal fees vary depending on the complexity of the finances, amount of consultation time, length of the document and type of law firm.

Invest in Your Economic Future

A prenuptial agreement can help make sure your marriage ends on equal and fair grounds whether by death or divorce Planning for the future of your income and assets is smart and a prenup can help secure your economic future in your new marriage, partnership or civil union.

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