Can Prenuptial Agreements Help You?
There is a lot of talk about prenuptial agreements. These agreements are also referred to as prenups or premarital agreements. Most people think that these agreements are only for the wealthy. A prenuptial agreement serves more than protect the assets of a wealthy person:
– Protection of assets
– Protection from liability for debts of the other
– Division of property upon death
– Determination of financial responsibilities
– Prevention of costly and time consuming disputes in case of divorce
What happens if there is no prenup agreement?
If there is no prenuptial agreement, your state law will determine how your property will be handled during the marriage and in the event of a divorce. In must states:
– Your spouse have the right to share and receive ownership of any property you obtain during the marriage
– Your spouse will receive a portion of your property in the event of your death
– You will be liable for the debts your spouse acquires during the marriage
– You will be liable for managing any property your spouse acquires during the marriage
There are many valid reasons for having a prenuptial agreement to avoid your state law from deciding the fate of your properties. For example, if you want your children from a prior marriage to receive your property upon your death instead of transferring it to your spouse, you should have a premarital agreement in place.
Preparing a valid Premarital Agreement
In the beginning courts scrutinized premarital agreements in detail to ensure that there was no coercion to sign and that the agreement did not encourage the parties to terminate the marriage. These days however prenuptial agreements are permitted by state law and is widely accepted. The courts no longer look at women as the “weaker sex”. Courts will however check to see if the agreement is valid under the state law, is fair to the parties and that it has been signed voluntarily and without coercion. A premarital agreement can be set aside if it does not comply with the requirements under the state law or is unfair to one party or is not voluntarily signed. You can and should discuss the terms of the agreement with your to be spouse but you must have the agreement reviewed by an experienced attorney to ensure that it is valid.