Long ago, having a prenuptial agreement was considered stodgy or even insulting, but these days, “prenups” are becoming increasingly common for high net worth couples. Simply put, a prenup formalizes the understanding between spouses-to-be as to which of their assets will become marital property.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you may hear distant bells announcing someone’s wedding. With many of these weddings will come financial complications that require attention, well before the vows are exchanged. Marriage is not just “tying the knot;” marriage means legally binding together all of your financial resources and interests.
Nor are prenuptial agreements useful tools only to divorcing couples. Prenuptial agreements are an essential estate plan for anyone contemplating marriage who has loved ones for whom they hope to provide a legacy. A good example of the need for a prenup would be the widow or widower with children who has made promises to their late spouse and children and who plans to make promises in their new relationship as well. What if those promises are contrary to Virginia law? Without a prenup, in all likelihood, the law will trump the estate plan.
Prenuptial agreements are nowhere as exotic as they are portrayed in the popular imagination. They can be, nevertheless, useful and important documents when produced through a spirit of full disclosure, careful deliberation, and independent legal representation. Otherwise, as pointed out in numerous articles these days, no prenuptial agreement is ironclad unless it is done correctly and, essentially, treated like the contractual understanding that it is.
Recently, Forbes provides some guidance to evaluate the effectiveness of your prenuptial agreement in an article titled “Five Reasons Your Prenup Might Be Invalid.” In addition, The Wall Street Journal offers some specific guidance to get your prenuptial agreement ship-shape in an article titled “Shoring Up Your Prenup.”
Used correctly, a prenuptial agreement, or even a post-nuptial agreement as the case may be, can help a couple frame their financial resources and interests in the context of their life together come what may.
That can provide great peace of mind, especially when blending families and the children from those families.
You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.