A prenuptial agreement is a written contract created by two people before they are married. The agreement usually lists all of the property each person owns (as well as any debts) and specifies what each person’s property rights will be after the marriage
Importantly, Pre-Nuptial Agreements are NOT just for the wealthy, as most believe. While it is true that these types of agreements are often used to protect the assets of a wealthy fiancé, couples of more modest means are increasingly turning to them for their own purposes. Here are some of those reasons:
- Pass separate property to children from prior marriages. A marrying couple with children from prior marriages may use a prenuptial to spell out what will happen to their property when they die, so that they can pass on separate property to their children and still provide for each other, if necessary. Without a prenuptial, a surviving spouse might have the right to claim a large portion of the other spouse’s property, leaving much less for the children.
- To clarify financial rights. Couples with or without children, wealthy or not, may simply want to clarify their financial rights and responsibilities during marriage.
- Avoiding arguments in case of divorce. Or they may want to avoid potential arguments if they ever divorce, by specifying in advance how their property will be divided, and whether or not either spouse will receive alimony.
- Obtain protection from debts. Pre nuptials can also be used to protect spouses from each other’s debts, and they may address a multitude of other issues as well.
If you don’t make a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, the state’s laws determine who owns the property that you acquire during your marriage, as well as what happens to that property at divorce or death.
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