Despite a significant increase in their popularity in recent years, prenuptial agreements still carry a significant amount of social stigma. People tend to associate a prenuptial agreement with one spouse trying to gain the upper hand over the other or a couple planning that their marriage won’t last.
If your fiance has recently asked you to sign a prenuptial agreement, does that mean that they expect that your marriage will end in divorce?
Prenuptial agreements are about protection
Prenuptial agreements can protect many people. When you and your fiance sign a prenuptial agreement, both of you can request certain terms to protect yourselves. You might want to earmark your personal professional practice as your separate property or establish that you will keep your debts completely separate throughout your marriage.
Some spouses include penalty clauses if they worry that their spouse might be unfaithful because of something that has happened in the past or return to bad behavior like chemical substance abuse or gambling. Prenuptial agreements can also be part of a comprehensive estate plan, especially if one of the future spouses has children from a previous relationship.
How does a prenuptial agreement help with estate planning?
Spouses typically have the strongest inheritance rights under state law, and the rights of children are subordinate to the rights of spouses. A prenuptial agreement could allow your spouse to leave certain property to their children while also protecting you. For example, they could give you a life tenancy in your marital home if they die, with the understanding that the property will pass to the children when you move out or you die.
Prenuptial agreements that designate certain assets or debts as separate can also help protect the inheritance rights of children from a prior relationship or other extended family members. Discussing issues ranging from your future living arrangements to your current debts can help you create solutions that will work well for your new, blended family.
Recognizing that a prenuptial agreement can be a mutually beneficial part of your estate planning process could make you more receptive to signing an agreement before you get married.