Many people do not like the idea of entering into a prenuptial agreement. They see it as a precursor to a doomed marriage, a sign that the individuals who sign the contract are unsure of their future together. But the latter reason is exactly why signing a prenuptial agreement is such a sound move. If you are the person proposing one, the best argument to make to your intended is that no one can tell the future with absolute certainty. Wanting the best and planning for the worst is the approach that people take to most things in their lives. Marriage should be no different. And in any case, prenuptial agreements protect both parties to the marriage.
Indeed, this is one of the most widely shared misunderstandings about prenuptial agreements: that they are used only to protect the assets of wealthy individuals who marry someone less wealthy. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of prenuptial agreements signed in Brooklyn are by persons of average wealth.
To be sure, prenuptial agreements are designed to protect the assets and property of individuals. The basic principle is that in the event of divorce the assets that the parties entered the marriage with cannot be subject to distribution.
You may own some stocks and bonds, or have money tied up in mutual funds. You may even have an IRA account. A prenuptial agreement can help you protect all of these. But if you are a homeowner it is vital that you get an agreement. If you have decided to purchase a home together but you wish to keep your current home as separate property, a prenup is useful. The same goes if it has been decided that you will both live in the house you own.
Debt is another area covered by prenuptial agreement. It is increasingly becoming the most popular reason for ordinary couples to sign one. Most couples get married with some pre-existing debt. Both you and your future spouse will have student loans, car loans, and consumer loans. You can draw up a prenuptial agreement which states that in the event of your divorce you will both be responsible for the respective debt you had before you married. This provides an important protection against being saddled with your personal debt, the debt that you accumulated during the marriage, and the debt of your partner.
The protection of heirlooms is also an important function of prenuptial agreements. It is important to remember that without such a contract all property, no matter its size, value, and nature, becomes subject to equal distribution. No one doubts your deep love and affection for your partner. You may view your future spouse as the kindest, warmest, most generous person you have ever met. But divorce has a strange effect on people. If your marriage does not turn out the way you thought it would, anger and bitterness can quickly displace kindness and sympathy. At that point, your partner may decide to do things out of spite, including taking things that they know have a sentimental value to you.
These are not the sorts of thoughts you want to entertain before your wedding day, but it is better that you do so now while you still have a chance to put safeguards in place. Jewelry, furniture, bags, old books, and other items that have been in your family for generations can be protected in a prenuptial agreement. Those objects that are most precious to you, and that you are meant to pass down to your own children should be rescued from all risk of seizure in a messy divorce.
You may also want to protect future inheritances. If you know that you are the beneficiary of property or other assets in a will, you can add that to the list of protected valuables in the prenuptial agreement. This can also be extended to trusts and other such entities.
To get the most extensive and effective protection it is best to work with a lawyer who specializes in drawing up prenuptial agreements. A lawyer who has deep insight, experience, and expertise in this area of law will help you think through all the things you need covered in the document. They will also know how to formulate a contract that is legally unassailable, so that in the event that your marriage does fail your significant other cannot successfully claim property and assets that you owned before the marriage.
A prenuptial agreement is not about divorce; it is about common sense protections for your assets and valuables.
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