Prenuptial agreements are a valuable tool when it comes to maintaining control of assets in the event of a divorce, but they can also help to ensure your wishes are carried out after your passing. Although no one enjoys thinking of divorce at the start of a marriage, planning for potential situations can give you peace of mind, especially if you have children from a previous marriage. Consulting with family lawyers and estate planning attorneys before you wed can help you understand how a prenuptial agreement may fit into your estate plan.
What Is A Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract that is entered into before marriage and contains provisions surrounding the distribution of assets if a couple divorces or one of them dies. To achieve your intended result, it is critical to have experienced family lawyers help you draft a prenuptial agreement. The rights of surviving spouses vary by state, and using the wrong type of language or failing to address certain issues may invalidate a prenuptial agreement down the road.
Why Is A Prenuptial Agreement Important In Estate Planning?
Combined with the right kind of trust, a prenuptial agreement can help couples who remarry ensure that the assets acquired before a new marriage will be distributed to intended beneficiaries upon their death.
A prenuptial agreement can limit your spouse’s ability to contest your will, protect your privacy, and ensure your designated beneficiaries receive their inheritance. It can help families avoid contentious and lengthy court battles, save money on probate attorney fees and simplify the settlement and distribution on an estate. If you have children from a previous union, a family trust can also be an important estate planning element to protect your heirs’ inheritance.
For business owners, a prenuptial agreement can safeguard their share of a business in the event of divorce or death. Succession planning lawyers often recommend that clients consider prenuptial agreements before marriage, as it not only protects their heirs but can make things less complicated with partners or shareholders should they leave the company or pass away.
Why Do I Need A Lawyer To Execute A Prenuptial Agreement?
Although prenuptial agreements usually work the way they are intended, they can be contested. Some common reasons include:
- A party did not voluntarily execute the agreement
- The agreement violates state law surrounding a surviving spouse’s share of an estate
- Before execution of the agreement, a party was not given a fair and reasonable disclosure of the value and nature of property, income, financial obligations, and debt
- One party was not provided a reasonable opportunity to consult with independent counsel
Some people who appear wealthy on paper, may carry a substantial amount of debt that may be undisclosed, which could leave one spouse holding the bag should the other die or file for divorce. If you find yourself in this type of situation, seeking the counsel of local bankruptcy attorneys is advisable to determine your options for protecting your financial security.
As a full-service law firm, Carosella & Associates, P.C. can assist you with all aspects of drafting and executing a prenuptial agreement, estate planning, and other legal issues.