Marriage is not just an emotional and physical union — it’s also a financial union. Although the discussions that go with a prenupial (or antenuptial) agreement may feel uncomfortable, it’s better to have these discussions at the beginning of a commitment than to be surprised later. By bringing these conversations to the open and encouraging frank discussion of finances and the values they reflect, a prenup can actually help ensure a better foundation for the future your marriage.
YOU SHOULD CONSIDER HAVING A PRENUP IF YOU FALL INTO ANY OF THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES:
- You already have children and/or grandchildren from a previous marriage
- You already own assets such as a home, stock or retirement funds
- You own all or part of a business
- You anticipate possibly receiving an inheritance
- One of you is much wealthier than the other
- One of you will be supporting the other through college
- You have loved ones who need to be taken care of, such as elderly parents
- You have or are pursuing a degree or license in a potentially lucrative profession such as medicine
- You could see a big increase in income because your business is taking off, or that garage band you play in has just gotten a contract with a big record company.
THINGS THAT CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED WITH A PRENUP
Keep finances separate:
- Itemize assets and define what is separate and what is marital property
- Define how future income will be allocated, will this be joint property
- Define how future property acquisitions will be allocated, as joint or separate
- Protect each other from debts accrued before or during marriage
- Provide for children from prior marriages
- Keep an inheritance separate
- Define each of your rights if you were to divorce
Clarify responsibilities during the marriage:
- whether to file joint or separate income tax returns and how to allocate income and tax deductions on separate tax returns
- who will pay the household bills — and how
- whether to have joint bank accounts and, if so, how to manage them
- agreements about specific purchases or projects, such as buying a house together or starting up a business
- how to handle credit card charges — for instance, whether you will use different cards for different types of purchases, what kinds of records you will keep, and how you will make payments
- agreements to set aside money for savings
- agreements for putting each other through college or professional school
- whether you will provide for a surviving spouse — for example, in your estate plan or with life insurance coverage, and
- how to settle any future disagreements — for example, you might agree to hire either a mediator or a private arbitrator.
WHAT ELSE YOU NEED
Complete Information: The prenup negotiation process includes full disclosure of all financial assets and liabilities
Estate Plan: It is important for the contents of the prenuptial agreement to dovetail with your estate plan. Marriage or remarriage is a time to review not only estate planning documents, but also investment accounts and titles to property to ensure that these are titled in a way that accurately reflects your intentions with regard to ownership and succession planning.
Attorney: In South Carolina, a prenuptial contract can alter significant legal rights that accrue as the result of marriage. For this reason, the assistance of an attorney is essential.
If you would like to learn more, feel free to contact me for a consultation: