Should I sign a Prenuptial Agreement?
Being financially responsible is important for everyone. A Prenuptial Agreement can help protect each spouse’s current assets and ensure both spouses remain responsible for any debts 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 can benefit both partners, and be helpful in the event a marriage does end in divorce. It's far easier to negotiate a financial arrangement that is fair while you're communicating well, rather than after being served divorce papers.
What happens if I don't sign a prenup?
When couples do not sign a prenup, then state law decides what happens when they divorce. 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 keep the assets they brought into the marriage and kept separate.
In states that don't follow community property principles, splitting 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 during a divorce.
Either way, it is helpful to have a Prenuptial Agreement that sets forth a fair plan if you do divorce, and 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. It is important to understand what is agreed to in a prenup. Make sure your Prenuptial Agreement specifically explains what you and your future spouse have agreed on.
Since a prenup is a legally binding contract, review it carefully before signing to make sure it is consistent with your understanding of the agreement. It is also important to have the agreement reviewed by your own lawyer to ensure it serves your best interests and does not have clauses that violate state laws. This also gives you an opportunity to ask about any words, phrases, or sections that you do not understand.
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 omen that their marriage may fail. A properly crafted prenup, however, can protect both partners and can save hours of needless stress later in the event of divorce, disability, or death. Prenups are also created while couples are on good terms, which means that they may be more empathetic and understanding of their partner’s needs.
Remember, prenups cannot be verbal agreements. It must be in writing and signed. Waiting until the last minute can add stress to the process. So, allow sufficient time for making changes, reviewing the document with a lawyer, 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.
Make your Free Prenuptial Agreement at Rocket Lawyer
If you'd like to know more about Prenuptial Agreements or have other questions about the process of customizing a prenup for you and your future spouse, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice. Be sure to ask whether your prenup can be electronically signed using RocketSign®, or if your state requires a notary or witnesses to be present for signing. Rocket Lawyer network attorneys can answer your questions, review your prenup, and help with a host of other documents you may need to plan your wedding or as you start your new life together as a married couple.
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.