What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement, also known as a “prenup”, antenuptial agreement, or premarital agreement, is a contract entered into by a couple before marriage. The agreement describes the couple’s intent for their property in the event of separation, death, or divorce after marriage.

When is a prenuptial agreement a good idea?
It is especially important to consider preparing a prenuptial agreement before marriage if one or both parties have family members or responsibilities from prior relationships. For example, a couple who is getting married and have children should consider a prenuptial agreement. This is true whether the children from the prior marriage are minors or grown.

Also, if you or your mate have substantial separate assets prior to marriage, it is a good idea to discuss with a lawyer the pros and cons of a prenuptial agreement and how to handle your separate property after marriage. The decisions you make at this juncture can greatly influence your property rights in the future.

What are some advantages of a prenuptial agreement?
One of the advantages of preparing a prenuptial agreement with a professional is that the parties, as part of the document preparation process, carefully examine their options and decisions in terms of property title, asset co-mingling, beneficiary designations, and bill-paying. These issues are sometimes quite state-specific and many people have mistaken assumptions about what rights they have if they do nothing. These mistakes can be costly.

The disciplined process of preparing the prenup forces the couple to decide, in advance, how they will handle their property, “yours, mine, and ours”, after marriage. Perhaps the greatest advantage of the prenup is in knowing that the decisions you reach about property, debt, and asset management are purposefully made. Using an attorney to assist you in this process greatly reduces the likelihood that your planning will be based on mistaken assumptions.

If you are marrying and have grown children, having a prenup can ease tension between your new spouse and your adult children. If the entire family is aware that the couple has carefully thought through the issues and made advance decisions about their property and how they will handle living expenses and future investments, this may help the family adjust to the marriage without the fear or mistrust that sometimes accompanies remarriage. The couple can also make a decision about whether to share the specifics of their planning with their children or whether they prefer to keep it private.

Is it selfish to prepare a prenuptial agreement?
It is not selfish to explore a prenuptial agreement before you marry – it is prudent and wise to carefully consider these issues as responsible adults.

Occasionally the prenuptial preparation process reveals that the parties have very different expectations about the marriage and what will happen financially after the marriage. If you find yourself in this category, you will be pleased that you learned of these expectations before the marriage rather than after!

How much does a prenuptial agreement cost?
Karen Hindson works with individuals on these issues on an hourly basis, so the cost is dependent on the attorney time spent on the matter. The services can range from a simple brief consultation where you discuss your individual situation and explore whether you need a prenup, to a more lengthy process that might take several hours of discussions, document preparation, and document review. The cost of exploring a prenup is probably much less than the cost of not doing so.

For more information or to discuss your individual situation, contact Karen Hindson for an appointment.