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Prenups potentially useful for more than just the wealthy

It is fairly common knowledge that prenuptial agreements are useful tools for protecting assets in divorce. Unfortunately, many people assume that it is only those with significant wealth who should really consider entering into a prenuptial agreement. In other words, there is an assumption that prenups are really only useful for rich people.

While prenuptial agreements certainly can be a useful tool for those with a lot of assets to lose in the event of divorce, the scope of who may benefit from a prenuptial agreement is wider than is commonly assumed. For one thing, the assets a couple has prior to marriage are not the only assets they should take into consideration. After marrying, one or both spouses may start a business, come into inheritance, or contribute to the appreciation of one another’s separate assets. Prenuptial agreements can help ensure these assets remain separate in the event of divorce.  

For some couples, assets and wealth are not the major concern at the time of marriage, but debts are. This can certainly be true for couples who plan on incurring student loan debt during the marriage, who plan on using credit cards, or who are marrying an individual who has a propensity to taking on debt. While debts incurred prior to marriage are separate property, debts incurred during marriage are generally the responsibility of both spouses.  

Prenuptial agreements are not limited strictly to handling assets and debts in the event of divorce. They can also be used to define financial obligations during the marriage itself and upon the death of a spouse. This can include things like: how the couple plans on handling their finances during their marriage; when debts taken on by one party are separate and when they are marital; and how assets will be handled upon the death of a spouse.

Prenuptial agreements may also deal with certain aspects of life after divorce, such as the use of social media to make representations about each other, though these types of terms should be used cautiously.

For many couples, it is easier to think about entering into a postnuptial agreement, when the marriage is failing, rather than at the beginning of what will hopefully be a permanent union. In an upcoming post, we’ll look at some of the legal requirements for prenuptial agreements, how they compare to postnuptial agreements, and why it is important to work with an experienced attorney with respect to these agreements.

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Prenups potentially useful for more than just the wealthy | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC