In the past, Prenuptial Agreements weren't as popular as they are today. We did see them occasionally when people were getting married, but they were not that common. These days they are more popular, with some people even using Prenuptial Agreements to specify what happens to their pets in the case of a divorce. Oftentimes, one of the parties earns a bit more than the other party and they think they need to get a Prenuptial Agreement. It doesn't have to be an unromantic experience, it's usually just a matter of one party making sure that their assets are protected. It's even becoming a bit of a complementary document to the estate planning that we normally do.

What Do I Do Next?

Clients will often come to me and say, "My fiance just handed me a Prenuptial Agreement, What do I do next?"

The first thing you do is don't panic. You don't immediately need to be worried and think you have to call off the wedding. It's not meant to be unromantic. Normally, there's a reason why your fiance's wanting a Prenuptial Agreement and hopefully, they talk to you about it beforehand and didn't just hand it to the morning of your wedding.

Your next step is to meet with an attorney. You want to review the terms and make sure you understand what's in the document. After you've read through the document, maybe you have a better idea of why your fiance wants a Prenuptial Agreement. It's very important to make sure you understand the financial discrepancies between you and your fiance. If you both make the same amount of money and everyone has the same assets, you're probably not going to be receiving a Prenuptial Agreement. However, if one of you has a significantly enhanced financial situation than the other, maybe one of you has a ton of student debt or the other one operates a bunch of businesses, it's important to understand where those financial differences lie.

Issues With Prenuptial Agreements

There are three main issues I see when people create Prenuptial Agreements that you want to watch out for:

  1. Make sure everybody has enough time to review the document ~ I was joking, but you don't want to be handed a Prenuptial Agreement on the way to your wedding. So if you're given it in the limo on the way to the wedding, and you just sign it without looking at it, you technically have a Prenuptial Agreement, but chances are that wouldn't hold up in court.
  2. Make sure there's full disclosure of each of your finances, including disclosing documents if necessary ~ Make sure everybody understands the financial situation of the other party.
  3. Make sure you negotiate specific issues ~ You don't have to just sign the document as it's given to you. You want to make sure you understand what it says. You want to make sure you understand the financial situation of you and your fiance and you want to make sure that if there are changes that need to be made, you get them made.

Why Does My Fiance Want a Prenuptial Agreement?

Many times, when clients come to me with a Prenuptial Agreement, they want to know why would their fiance even want a Prenuptial Agreement. I tend to see them in three different types of situations:

  1. When one party has a lot of debt, and they want to make sure that the other party isn't going to end up on the hook for the debt.
  2. One of the parties has a family business to protect. Oftentimes the prenup is not coming from your fiance, but it's actually coming from their family and the family business and they want to make sure that they're protecting their business and their family business down the road.
  3. A family inheritance where the Prenuptial Agreement is used to protect an inheritance, which may be the family business. They may just be very concerned about protecting that inheritance.

So it may have nothing to do with your you and your fiance and may really be your fiance's family pushing them to get this kind of document.

Next Steps

If you've been handed a Prenuptial Agreement by your fiance, or if you'd like to have one prepared for you, let's set up a Legal Strategy Session to discuss the next steps and make sure you're getting the right agreement for you and your situation.

Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.