Prenuptial Agreements: Not Just for the Rich

Prenuptial agreements go by many names. They can be called premarital contracts or agreements, marital agreements, prenups, and more. Their purpose is to help couples make decisions prior to a marriage. These decisions often involve assets, but prenups are not designed to benefit only rich people. It is true that they can perform that function, but they can do much more. In truth, prenuptial agreements can benefit and protect everyone in the family. Here are just some of the potential benefits of a prenuptial contract.

You Can Set Aside Money for the Children

Through a marital agreement, you can predetermine a set amount of money to be set aside for your kids. It can be an initial sum that does not change, or it could be a trust that the spouses pay into regularly. You can stipulate when the kids are eligible to receive this money. The money can be designated for the children, meaning neither adult in the marriage can use it, borrow from it, etc.

Certain Property Can Always Belong to You

Generally, any property acquired during a marriage is considered “marital” property. This means that it belongs to the both of you. Consider that for a moment. Every time you buy a new magazine, shirt, or video game by yourself, it also belongs to your spouse. In a divorce, New York courts use an equitable property division model. They look at the total assets of the marriage and divide it according to what they deem fair. Your treasured items could be sold or given to your spouse regardless of whether they bought or cared about those items.

Through a prenup, you can determine which property will always be “yours.” Imagine Sarah is an artist who builds a studio for herself and buys a plethora of brushes, tools, easels, etc. Since her wife is not an artist, Sarah can make sure that any art supplies purchased within the marriage will always belong to her. This caveat is particularly useful for people who buy collectibles while they are married.

Gifts exchanged between married couples are generally considered marital property. If you are a person who values your gifts, you can make sure they will always be yours regardless of what happens later.

You Can Agree on Financial Obligations

Many are aware that money is one of the most hotly debated topics in a marriage. Far too many couples jump into a marriage without first deciding how they will handle their finances. With a marital agreement, how money is spent is in writing. This helps you know what to expect, and it legally binds you to follow the agreement. By doing this, couples can focus on the relationship on sound financial footing.

There are several ways married couples can share finances. Some prefer a complete 50/50 split. No matter who brings in what amount of income, it is divided equally among the spouses. Others prefer a percentage split. They look at who brings in what percent of the total household income and divide expenses accordingly. For example, Jennifer makes 43% of the total income in the home, so she pays for 43% of the electric bill, groceries, water bill, etc. Another option is for partners to pay according to use. Sarah never watches TV, but her wife Jennifer binges shows all night. Jennifer, then, pays for all the cable and streaming services. Whatever system works for you, you can put it in writing and never worry about it again.

You Can Delegate Obligations to Property

If you want your property to last, you need to maintain it. Couples can sometimes argue about whose “job” it is to manage various parts of life. A prenuptial agreement can squash these arguments before they begin. You can determine who manages and upkeeps the home, the cars, the yard, etc. You could, theoretically, decide who is in charge of washing dishes if you wanted.

You Can Plan for the Worst

You want your marriage to last forever. That’s why you’ve decided to marry in the first place. However, the realities of life often cut a marriage short. If the worst should happen, and you must get divorced, you can decide today how to manage that. You can choose that you will use a mediator and file an uncontested divorce if that day comes. You could even decide how you will divide property, which matters to handle in court, etc. This is yet another way that a martial contract could save you stress and strife later.

The “worst,” of course, may not be a divorce. It could be an untimely death. Like a will, a prenuptial agreement can plan for that day as well.

Prenuptial Contracts Are Malleable

One of the greatest benefits of a prenup is that it can be changed later. Perhaps you chose a 50/50 split of income, and you find it isn’t working for you. Maybe one of you has a sudden amount of success in your career, and you need to restructure your financial plan. You might have planned to have children together, but you changed your minds. Whatever the reason, you can restructure your agreement to fit your marriage as it grows and evolves.

Consult an Attorney

Once you’ve decided on a prenuptial agreement, consult a skilled lawyer for help. Judges can invalidate prenups for many reasons, including:

  • One person was coerced into the agreement
  • One person misrepresented themselves before signing the agreement
  • The agreement overly benefits one party

Lawyers can work with you to make sure none of these standards are broken. They can verify that both parties are willingly signing the agreement. Attorneys can investigate each person, making sure that they are who they claim to be. They can also help you rewrite the agreement if it appears to be too one-sided.

A lawyer can also help write a prenup with clear, unambiguous language. This can help resolve any future squabbles over minor technicalities in the contract.

We are here to help you with a prenuptial agreement. For a free consultation, reach out online, or call (347) 378-1170.