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Prior planning prevents poor performance, so how about a prenup?

When you think about your future and the plans you should be making for your welfare and those you love, you're probably thinking about wills, powers of attorney or retirement savings. However, if your plans include marriage, you may also wish to consider drafting a prenuptial agreement

Naturally, a divorce is not in your plans if you're getting married soon. No one plans on divorce; they plan on a life of love with that special someone. Unfortunately, that's not always how it works out, and a little planning now could spare a lot of headaches and frustration in the future.

What a premarital agreement can do for you and your spouse

By making arrangements now, it may be possible to avoid some areas of confrontation during a divorce, should that come to pass. An agreement generally addresses property issues and the division of assets if the marriage ends. Examples include: 

  • Rights of each spouse to joint property
  • Establishment of separate property
  • Ability to manage or dispose of property
  • Ownership and disposition of insurance policy death benefits 

Decisions about child custody and support cannot be a part of a prenuptial agreement. In fact, if a judge determines an aspect of an agreement may be detrimental to the children's support, he or she may strike down that section of the document.

Is an agreement set in stone? 

While it is always prudent to make the best possible agreement given the known circumstances, there may be conditions under which it is desirable to alter a prenuptial agreement. Changes written into the agreement require the consent and signatures of both parties.

In order to be enforceable as a whole, both parties need to have willingly signed the agreement. Full understanding of the terms is required, and the terms cannot heavily favor one party over the other.

You and me, and a lawyer make 3

Creating a prenuptial agreement is a relatively simple matter. A couple just needs to put the agreement in writing and sign it to make it valid. 

Despite the apparent simplicity, however, advisors strongly recommend that couples prepare the document with the assistance of an attorney. An attorney can ensure the wording in the document is proper, all the content is appropriate and the terms represent the best interests of the client. If you are interested in learning more about prenups and whether one is right for you, a lawyer can help answer your questions.

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