What is a prenuptial agreement? A prenuptial agreement is a premarital agreement. Embarking upon a marriage is a wonderful time in life when emotions are running high and you have great optimism about the future you and your spouse-to-be will build together. The last thing you want is to jeopardize your love by discussing unromantic things like who will be the primary wage earner, who takes care of the home and who takes out the garbage. Nevertheless, there is no better time to talk about your roles in marriage than when the two of you have never felt closer; you both need to commit to marital roles and responsibilities from the start. Therefore, it is extremely important to create a prenuptial agreement (also referred to as a premarital agreement or a marriage contract) that reflects your commitment to marital roles in general and financial matters in particular.
A prenuptial agreement is a private contract between two persons contemplating marriage. The couple generally settles, in advance, financial matters in the event of death or divorce.”Lifestyle” or non-financial topics also may be included. The contract overrides and preempts state, family and probate laws that otherwise would apply. The agreement must be “fair and reasonable”, meaning you both have to offer full and fair disclosure, have separate and independent counsel, and make sure there is ample lead-time before the wedding.
In order to best safeguard your union, there are certain key issues you should include in your agreement. Be sure to review the following with your soon-to-be spouse:
- List all assets, liabilities, income, and expectations of gifts and inheritances.
- Describe how premarital debts will be paid.
- Resolve what happens to your premarital property in reference to appreciation, gains, income, rentals, dividends and proceeds of such property- in the event of death or divorce.
- Decide who, or if both of you, will own the marital residence and secondary homes in the event of death or divorce.
- Specify the status of gifts, inheritances, and trusts either spouse receives or benefits from, whether before or after marriage.
- Clarify what will happen to each type of property, whether jointly or individually owned, such as real estate, artwork and jewelry.
- Figure out alimony, maintenance, or spousal support, or provide for a waiver or property settlement instead of support (to the extent allowable by law).
- Detail death benefits, stating what you will provide for in your will.
- Decide on medical, disability, life or long-term-care insurance coverage.
Some people may be hesitant to enter a prenuptial agreement with their betrothed because they think it will destroy the romance and fantasy of their upcoming marriage. A prenuptial agreement, however, gives a couple an opportunity to share their hopes and dreams with one another and articulate their aspirations. The best chance of living up to one another’s expectations is knowing what they are in advance and finding out what it is that your partner holds dear. A prenuptial agreement can intensify the pleasure of a relationship by drawing out the couple’s desires, promoting communication and enabling partners to establish for themselves the rules of their marriage. By virtue of this process, a prenuptial agreement protects the romance that launched the couple and makes happily-ever-after more likely. A relationship based on reality is stronger than a relationship built on illusion. Getting to know your partner’s position on these important aspects early can help head-off more difficult discussions during the marriage.
If you can’t talk about touchy issues, it doesn’t bode well for the marriage. Asking each other serious questions about how you see finances will save you anxiety and money down the road and might even save your marriage. It is not an easy thing to do, in fact, it is very difficult- not to mention unromantic – to discuss splitting assets and assigning debts before you reserve the wedding hall. But, by all means, do not fail to broach the subject: Remember, your marriage and your sanity depend upon it. One coping strategy is to change your attitude toward the task. Tell yourself, “What could be more romantic than to spend time together looking ahead to the rich and wonderful life we will build together and discussing how we will make our dreams come true?” Set a convenient time and meet in a relaxing setting. Plan something fun following the discussion. Make it meaningful and memorable.
If you choose me as your lawyer, I pledge to work with you to set and accomplish your goals by whatever means are necessary. Protecting and furthering your interests will be my chief concern. You may initiate contact with me through this web site, which is a secure means of communication. Simply click on the Contact menu and fill out and submit the email form in the right side bar. Alternatively, you may call me directly at 503-686-0981. Note that my two offices are conveniently located in Hillsboro and in Tualatin, Oregon, and I serve the Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, and Lake Oswego communities. I look forward to meeting you and working together with you to solve your legal problem.