How to Draft a Prenuptial Agreement

Prenuptial agreements are most commonly associated with celebrities or wealthy individuals who want protection for their financial assets in the event of a separation or divorce. But prenups are not just the for the rich and famous. They are increasingly being set up between all sorts of couples to ensure that certain conditions are fulfilled in the event that the marriage ends in divorce.

A prenuptial agreement may seem like a rather pessimistic move, but even the best marriage can descend into a bitter argument at a later date. If you think that you may benefit from a prenuptial agreement, take these steps to prepare a draft of this important legal document.

Talk to your future spouse first

A prenuptial agreement is an important legal document, but don't discount possible emotional considerations. Your future spouse may feel that you want the document because you do not trust him or her or because you have no faith in the future of your marriage. You should openly discuss your reasons for wanting the agreement to ensure that it does not create problems in the future. Remember that a prenuptial agreement does not have to be one-sided; it can be perfectly equitable to both parties.

Consider professional legal advice

You can write a prenuptial agreement yourself without the involvement of an attorney. If, however, you believe that it is important enough to have a prenup, then you should realize the importance of including all possible considerations in the best legal format. An attorney can help make certain that the document contains the correct details and is worded in the best way to fully protect you and/or your spouse. The process will normally take between one and three weeks, and your attorney will need to consult with you and your spouse. The time and money spent at the outset could be more than worth it in the longer term.

Remember to include both debts and assets

When a prenuptial agreement is focused on your finances, it should reflect both debts and assets. Many divorce cases involving prenuptial agreements are complicated by incomplete information or the absence of personal debts. Similarly, the agreement needs to consider the implications of assets accumulated during the marriage, as well as those in place beforehand.

Detail any specific conditions

You may run across any number of reasons to alter the terms of the prenuptial agreement during the course of your marriage. The birth of a child, for example, may require amendments to the terms of certain payments. In some cultures, the gender of the child may make a difference, too. An attorney is the best source of advice about the life events that you should consider. However, you should be sure that the prenup clearly also outlines any issues of particular importance to you, as well as any timetables under which those conditions might expire.

If you are about to marry someone you love, considering a prenuptial agreement may seem completely at odds with your emotions. Thinking about your future assets now, however, could be time well-invested and might save a lot of heartache (and money) at a later date. Look at it this way: A prenup won't matter at all if you end up together till death do you part, so if you have one tucked away, you need never think about it again. But having a prenup already prepared will be invaluable to both of you on the off-chance that your expectations of each other fall far short.

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