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Do You Need a Prenuptial Agreement?

Updated on March 16, 2013

Do You Need a Prenuptial Agreement?

Thinking about a prenuptial agreement is not nearly as romantic as thinking about wedding plans or the honeymoon; however, in some situations there are compelling reasons why you should have one. Prenuptial agreements are designed to protect loved ones, safeguard assets, and make sure a family business is preserved or to streamline divorce proceedings.

Who Needs a Prenuptial Agreement?

In many cases, couples decide a prenuptial agreement is not necessary. There are certain situations, however, where it is wisest to have such a document created. If you fit any of the following criteria, you may want to consider signing a prenuptial agreement with your fiancée.

When one person has substantially more assets than the other has, or if you each have significant assets of your own, a prenuptial agreement is a good idea. A prenuptial agreement can stipulate that you will each retain the assets you had before the marriage took place. If a divorce does occur, you will each keep any property or investments that you owned prior to the marriage.

Another circumstance where a prenuptial agreement is often used is if you have children from a prior marriage. If you remarry and you should die first, most states have decreed that the surviving spouse will have the right to inherit as much as one-half of the estate. If you want to make sure your property goes to your children, however, a well-written prenuptial agreement will clearly state your wishes.

If you are a part of a family business, a closely held business, or you own your own business, you will want to take steps to protect that company in case you divorce or of the death of your spouse. Without a prenuptial agreement, you could find your business being split up or taken over by the spouse or his family.

Are you giving up a lucrative job or a career to get married? If so, a prenuptial agreement will make certain that you are compensated for your losses if the marriage fails.

One other consideration is your spouse's credit. If you fear that you will be held responsible for credit card debts or other bills he/she has accumulated before your marriage, or incurs after your marriage, a prenuptial agreement is a smart step to take.

How do you create a Prenuptial Agreement?

This is not a do-it-yourself project. If you have determined that a prenuptial agreement is right for your situation, you should each have your own lawyer to represent you. A single attorney cannot represent each of your fairly. The agreement should be based on full-disclosure in regards to each of your assets and liabilities. Like any other contract, you should be sure you understand fully everything in the agreement before you sign it.

Although thinking about these kinds of details as you are preparing for your wedding can be stressful, in many circumstances it is the most sensible thing to do. Besides, a strong marriage is based on open, honest communication no matter how difficult the topic is. This is one step that will help you begin practicing that habit.


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      Prenuptial Attorneys 6 years ago

      Sometimes people think "Well I'm not rich, so I don't need a prenup". Prenuptial agreements are not only for wealthy people, they are also for regular people like you and me. I think that prenuptial agreements are a great way to safeguard each others goals and interests and discuss topics that without one wouldn't probably be discussed leaving room for misunderstandings later in the marriage.

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      Araceli Lamas 6 years ago

      I agree :)