Many people believe a Prenuptial Agreement, or prenup, is a bad idea because it implies they are planning on a divorce at the same time they’re planning a wedding. But the truth is, a Prenuptial Agreement protects both spouses financially in case of divorce, disability, or death. Here, we answer some common questions about Prenuptial Agreements.
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Should I sign a Prenuptial Agreement?
Being financially responsible is important for everyone. A Prenuptial Agreement can help protect each party’s current assets and ensure both spouses remain responsible for the debt they brought into the relationship. If either partner has children from a prior relationship, a Prenuptial Agreement can help ensure their financial stability as well.
Prenuptial Agreements protect both partners, and they are helpful in the event a marriage does end in divorce. And it’s far easier to negotiate a financial arrangement that works for both parties while you’re communicating well, rather than waiting until your relationship becomes contentious.
What happens if I don’t sign a prenup?
State law prevails when there is no Prenuptial Agreement. For couples who live in states that adhere to community property laws, this means that most assets or liabilities accumulated during the marriage would be divided equally between the parties. However, individuals are able to retain assets they brought into the marriage and kept separate.
In states that don’t follow community property principles, distribution of assets normally follows a process called “equitable distribution.” In these states, multiple factors are taken into consideration to ensure property is distributed in a fair way between divorcing parties. Either way, it is helpful to have a Prenuptial Agreement ahead of time that allows you to retain specific property for family heirs or favored charities.
What should you be aware of when signing a premarital agreement?
Prenuptial Agreements, also called premarital agreements, are deeply personal documents, and they are legally binding. Therefore, you should avoid using generic text in a prenup. Instead, make sure your Prenuptial Agreement specifically explains what you and your future spouse have agreed on. Both parties should have the agreement reviewed by separate attorneys to ensure it complies with their wishes and has no clauses that are contrary to local laws. Since a premarital agreement is a legally binding contract, review it carefully before signing. Make sure it does not contain any language that is inconsistent with your understanding of what you agreed to. Ask a lawyer if you’re not sure what a particular provision or term means.
When is it too late to sign a prenup?
It is too late to sign a prenup once you are legally married. After that, any written financial agreement that you enter into with your spouse would be called a Postnuptial Agreement.
Oftentimes, couples avoid discussing money prior to marriage, and they may feel a Prenuptial Agreement is an admission their marriage may fail. However, the reality is that a properly crafted prenup can protect both partners and can save hours of needless stress later in the event of divorce, disability, or death.
Remember, prenups cannot be verbal agreements; they must be in writing. Waiting until the last minute will add stress to the process. Allow sufficient time for making changes, gathering signatures, and having documents notarized, if required.
Whether you draft a prenup before your wedding or a Postnuptial Agreement soon after, it is always a good idea to contact a lawyer if you have any questions before you sign it. This step can protect you from unfamiliar legal jargon that violates the spirit of your agreement.
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If you’d like to know more about Prenuptial Agreements or have other questions about the process of designing a prenup for you and your future spouse, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney. Family law attorneys can answer your questions and review a host of documents that you may need as you start your new lives together.
Once you have agreed on the terms of a prenup, you can also use Rocket Lawyer’s unique services to digitally sign documents free. Additionally, you can safely store these documents online so they are always available for review.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.