Do You Need a Prenuptial Agreement

You may not think a prenuptial agreement is the sexiest thing in the world, but it doesn't have to be a wedge between you and your loved one. This legal document can save you a lot of grief and worry and can allow you and your loved one to enter into a marriage without fretting over finances.

Prenuptial agreements are not just for the filthy rich. This document can help people even of modest means, particularly if you already own property before you get married, and a prenup enables you to discuss your finances from the very beginning of your partnership.

Broaching the Subject

Most people don't like to mix business with pleasure, but discussing a prenuptial agreement can actually strengthen a relationship. By talking about your financial histories, expectations, fears and needs, you will go into this new marriage with a clean slate. Be as honest as you can and include the fact that you want a prenup when making plans for the future.

Talk about crafting a prenuptial agreement as early as possible. As soon as you are engaged, you should explain that this is important to you. You don't want to wait until weeks before the wedding because a late discussion about finances can cause unnecessary strain on top of any other wedding-related stress.

Plus, any legal process takes time, so you'll want to make sure that the agreement is settled long before the wedding. If the agreement is signed too close to the date of the wedding and you divorce, a judge may think that one of you was cornered into signing the prenup at the last minute and wind up disregarding it.

Make clear that discussing a prenup will help you both address your assets and financial goals for the future. This document does not mean you don't trust your future spouse or are expecting a divorce. Instead, like any form of insurance, it is an extra piece of security. Go into the discussion with some specific goals you'd like to accomplish with this agreement and how it will affect you.

Why It Matters

A prenuptial agreement can protect your assets, as well as any family inheritances or valuable objects and assets you may own. Take the time to discuss what assets you own, why they are important to you and what would happen to them in the event that the marriage doesn't work out. The agreement will also allow you to plan for worst-case scenarios so that you and your loved one can enter into a marriage prepared and without worry that you will ever lose your assets or end up with nothing.

If you and your future spouse are planning on working out a prenuptial agreement and want children, the two of you can decide at that time how to handle your children's finances. This way, you will lay the groundwork for future conversations about paying for your child's needs and perhaps even higher education. If one of you already has children, then a prenuptial agreement is crucial because you can protect property and assets that you want to go to them.

Preparing the Prenup

Before you and your loved one seek legal help, the two of you should decide what the goals of your prenuptial agreement should be and what you hope to accomplish from this document. You and your loved one should consider hiring separate attorneys to protect each of your assets.

Negotiating with a loved one can be extremely difficult, and it can be made easier with the help of facilitators. Hiring lawyers is expensive, but you should have a third party present, specifically a person who is not biased toward you or your loved one.

Go into prenuptial agreement negotiations knowing what you want to gain. Before you begin the process, you should know what you are willing to give, what you can compromise on and where you will not budge. Think about what assets are especially important to you. If your family has had a piece of property in the family since the Civil War, if you own a property and collect rent or if you own a business, then you might think about making these assets off limits to your ex in the event of a divorce.

Additionally, think about what you expect to earn in the future. If you are finishing law school, this is an investment you should think about when prepping a prenuptial agreement. Also, you and your loved one should look into state laws, and a lawyer can help explain the details. State laws will determine the parameters of your prenuptial agreement. For example, some states say that spouses can claim a percentage of earnings from degrees, licenses and partnerships.

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A prenuptial agreement - or prenup, as they are more commonly called - is a document that specifies certain requirements in different scenarios. Most address what happens to money, assets, children and investments in the event of death or divorce.

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