Monday, June 20, 2011

Prenuptial Agreements

When one marries a second time it is critically important to protect one's wealth through a Prenuptial Agreement. This is a contract between two parties entered into upon the advice of counsel that sets forth the rights a spouse will have after one is legally married. A typical Prenuptial Agreement will set forth what is considered "Separate Property" and what property will be deemed to be "Marital Property". Separate Property is wealth that the future spouse waives his or her rights to upon death or divorce. When someone says "I do" a spouse gains legally enforceable rights to take against a will or a living trust by virtue of the marriage contract. The only way to protect against a second spouse upsetting the apple cart for the heirs is to have the spouse waive those rights before the marriage. This has to be done upon advice of counsel and full disclosure. A Prenuptial Agreement needs to be signed long before the date of the marriage ceremony so as to avoid any undue influence that might give someone the right to void the agreement at a later time. Married couples need to promise their current spouses that they will enter into Prenuptial Agreements if they decide to remarry after one becomes a widow or widower.

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