By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida
Congratulations! You are getting married. If you are over the age of 30 you probably have your own assets and debts. To assure that your hard earned assets are not lost in a quickie marriage, the first rule of thumb is to keep your assets entirely separate. That means, don’t use any of it for marital purpose, don’t put your hard earned cash into joint bank accounts, and don’t commingle your funds in any way for joint purchases. Or if you do, you need to realize that investment is joint and marital. It will be at issue if you divorce later. Fully disclose in your prenuptial agreement what you are going into the marriage with. That way if you leave the marriage, your assets go with you, unless otherwise intended.
As far as debts are concerned, you need to know what your bride or groom’s credit score is. You need to be released or held harmless from this beloved’s premarital debts. In that way, your assets are protected and you are not responsible for your spouse’s debts.
Because premarital agreements deal with the potential for divorce, it is important to realize how extensive the protections can be. A bride or groom who is waiving marital rights, needs to know what they waiving in order for that waiver to be valid and enforceable down the road.
Anti-nuptial agreements also deal with death of a spouse and protection for the surviving spouse. However, it is important to remember, a prenup is NOT a testamentary document. It does not replace a will or trust document. Sometimes I engage the expertise of an estate planning lawyer to assist me with the drafting of death provisions of a prenup.
Also, there are tax implications of any property distribution scheme, or division of assets, so a tax advisor is recommended to work us as well.
In addition to the experts that may be required in the drafting of your prenuptial agreement, we also use videographers to record the actual execution of the document. The importance of this is to assure that the parties are entering into the contract free of duress, over reaching, fraud or misunderstanding or even sometimes a language barrier. Any breach here, and your prenuptial agreement can voidable even years later.
If done properly, prenuptial agreements are generally upheld when challenged in court. Budget about $10,000 or more, depending upon the complexity of your estate. This is your future that is at stake, so remember, you get what you pay for. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish by hiring an attorney who will cut corners to keep the price down. That is definitely not in your best interests.