Wedding plans? Don’t forget the legalities.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

Congratulations!  You’re engaged.  After the adrenaline rush quiets down, it’s time to start planning your wedding.   But what about your legal future?  Men AND women need to follow my free legal advice: the first thing to do is TAKE STOCK OF YOUR OWN ASSETS AND DEBTS…MAKE A LIST.  Should the marriage fail down the road, you want to exit with all the stuff you entered with.  This includes your piano, your coin collection, real estate, or real estate values, retirement accounts, stocks and bond accounts, your grandmother’s sterling silver.  Very often in divorce in Florida, the wedding day starts the time tolling and the filing for divorce date stops it. 

For example, in Florida, if you have an IRA account that has $50,000 in it on the wedding day, and the marriage lasts five years, and during that time the account appreciated $10,000, your spouse may be entitled to one half of the appreciated value from the date of the wedding to the date of any filing for divorce.  Valuations of businesses, investments, real estate are also figured from the date of the wedding to the date of filing for divorce.  These dates are critical and can make a big difference in a spouse’s entitlement of assets in a divorce situation.

If this is a first time marriage and you have substantial assets, or if this is subsequent marriage and there are assets and children, then the second thing to do is to HIRE A LAWYER FOR A PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT.  In Palm Beach County, attorneys fees run around $5,000 to $15,000 for a prenup retainer, but it is more than worth it.  This is no time to be penny wise and pound foolish.  A prenuptial agreement will provide divorce terms and death terms should the marriage fail or stay in tact.  This is especially important to protect children from a former marriage. 

The third thing to do is CHECK YOUR CREDIT.  Keep some credit cards and car loans in your own good name. 

DON’T COMMINGLE YOUR INHERITENCE.  If you have funds left to you in a will or trust, don’t use those funds for marital purpose.  Also, don’t put them in joint names.  If you do, and the marriage fails, your spouse may lay claim to a one half interest. 

DON’T CHANGE YOUR WILL to include your spouse if you have a prenuptial agreement.  You need to coordinate the prenup with estate planning documents.  A prenup is not a will.  Consult an attorney who knows about these things. 

In conclusion, planning a wedding may be the fun part, but don’t ignore your legal future.  Give yourself the most important wedding gift of all, peace of mind.

For additional information, please call my law firm, Robin Roshkind, P.A., for a consultation (561-835-9091) or visit the firm’s website at www.familylawwpb.com.

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