Posted in: Premarital & Cohabitation Agreements
You’re engaged, in love, and planning a wedding with your beloved. This isn’t the right time to discuss something as unpleasant as what will happen to all your pre-marriage possessions, debts, gifts, etc. if you divorce, or one of you dies, or is it? This isn’t the right time to share personal financial information with one another, or is it? The answer to those questions is definitely, “Yes”! This is actually the perfect time for you, and the person you plan to marry, to honestly discuss your future together … a future that may not turn out exactly as you planned. This is where the premarital agreement comes in.
A premarital agreement is an agreement between a prospective husband and wife that sets forth parameters for the disposition of financial assets and obligations in the event of a divorce or the death of one of the spouses. A well-written premarital agreement can address a number important issues before you are forced to face them—at a time when you might be less clear-headed than you are now. Below is a list some significant things that a well-written premarital agreement can accomplish for you and your spouse-to-be, in the event of a not-so-rosy future. The agreement can:
Each state’s laws differ on family matters, so it is makes sense to have an experienced family law attorney draft your premarital agreement. But before you do that, both you and your intended should gather up all of your financial information so you can give each other and your attorney a fair and accurate picture of your current financial information. It’s a good idea to attach to the premarital agreement, a financial statement and most recent tax return for each party. For the agreement’s exclusion clauses, list everything that won’t be “marital” property (i.e.: everything that is owned pre-marriage, anything you think might be in the offing and any potential inheritances). Because anything not listed specifically as an “exclusion” can be construed as “marital” property.
You should document everything as specifically as possible and attach as complete financial information as possible, to establish a “baseline.” The baseline will clearly set forth exactly what money, investments, possessions, loans, etc. exist before you are married. Then you should make sure that your agreement takes into account all of the unique laws of both the state in which you will be married and living, and any states in which significant property is located. But first and foremost, consult with an experienced attorney who can guide you through this process and help you prepare the agreement that you hope you’ll never need.