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If you’re thinking about asking your future wife or husband to sign a pre-nuptial agreement, you should be sure about what it means and that you handle it appropriately. The reason? Nothing will hurt a romance as quickly as asking someone out of the blue to sign a document that protects you. Yet, in many cases it’s important to have a pre-nuptial agreement even if it hurts the feelings of the person you love. Why? Because about one in three marriages end in divorce and 50% of second and third marriages end as well. While you may not think that it could happen to you, having a pre-nuptial agreement is just a way to plan effectively both for legal as well as financial reasons.
What Exactly is a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
In simple terms, a pre-nuptial agreement is a contract made between two people, and defines exactly how assets will be divided if the marriage comes to an end. Pre-nuptials are not new, as people have been signing them for thousands of years. In fact, in other cultures, families have always protected their possessions, as it was considered smart practice to sign some sort of agreement, especially when wealth was involved. The content of a prenuptial agreement can vary, but generally includes provisions for the division of property should the couple divorce and any rights to spousal support during or after the dissolution of a marriage.
Think of a Pre-Nup as an Insurance Policy
Prenuptial agreements are meant as a partial solution to obliterating some of the risks of marital property disputes in times of divorce. They are not the final word although they can be very powerful since they limit property rights and alimony. You wouldn’t hesitate to purchase an insurance or fire insurance policy to protect your home, yet people take pre-nuptials very personally. When people marry, their union covers all sorts of things including financial situations, so if you want to be sure you are protected, a pre-nuptial agreement can help alleviate unnecessary stress.
Should You Consider a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
Whether you should consider a prenuptial agreement depends on a few facts. For example, if you own a home, stock or retirement funds, prior to marriage, you are a good candidate for a pre-nuptial agreement. If you own a business and are far wealthier than your fiancÚ, a pre-nuptial agreement is also a good idea. Perhaps you will be receiving an inheritance in the future and you want to be sure it’s protected. Possibly, you are now attending college and your career could be potentially very lucrative. Or maybe, you can see down the road that you will be making a lot of money in the future and just want to protect your assets. For many, these are good reasons to think about a pre-nuptial agreement.
How Can You Ask a Future Partner to Sign a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
But, how can you ask a future partner to sign a pre-nup agreement without offending them? In most cases it’s quite touchy, but if you’re thinking about marriage to a particular person and you’re worried about finances, it’s best that you broach the subject early on. Don’t wait for the wedding plans to be in place before asking your future wife or husband to sign the pre-nuptial agreement. As your approach the suggestion, be honest about your feelings and explain why you believe it is necessary. It may not be the most romantic thing to present, but it’s important that each partner understands where the other is coming from. Even in the best of circumstances, people fall out of love, things change and marriages end, so without a pre-nuptial agreement, things can get very sticky. Explain that you are only trying to avoid a messy situation.
Things to Consider To Include in a Pre-nup
Some people include things in a pre-nuptial agreement that have nothing to do with money. Of course if the spouse is adamant about children being a specific religion that’s something that could and should be included. But to include silly things like making sure you attend a gym once a week is a bit off the beaten path and can be thrown out of court. When you’re planning your pre-nutial agreement, make sure each party has their own attorney to advise them. Sometimes pre-nups are thrown out because one spouse didn’t have legal representation, so you want to be sure that both have an attorney who has their best interests at heart. And after a number of years of being married, you may consider having the pre-nuptial revised. Whatever you decide, if you choose to create a pre-nuptial agreement, make sure it’s signed and witnessed by an attorney.