PRENUPS TO PROTECT YOUR NEXT FROM YOUR EX
Prenups often get a bad rap as a tool for hedging one’s bets in relation to an impending marriage. Prenuptial agreements, however, play many, many important roles that have little to do with callousness on the part of the person who requests the contract. It’s easy to forget that prenups are nothing more than legal documents that both parties to a marriage must agree to, and that can address a wide range of financial issues. If you are entering into a second marriage, a prenuptial agreement is probably in you and your new spouse’s best interests, and consulting with an experienced florida prenup attorney is strongly advised.
A Prenup Can Be an Important Tool for Estate Planning
Estate planning is critical to ensuring that your wealth will be distributed in the manner you want it to be distributed when you’re gone. While this isn’t a fun topic to think about, it’s very important to address – especially if your finances are complicated by business ownership, children from a prior marriage, diverse holdings, and more. Having a carefully crafted prenuptial agreement can provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your assets will be distributed to whom you want them to be distributed to – and not to anyone you don’t.
Your prenup provides you with the opportunity to protect your new spouse from any claim your ex could have had over your estate. Even with careful estate planning, a prenuptial agreement serves as an additional layer of protection that makes very clear what your intentions are. We’ve all read about cases where the estates of the fabulously wealthy are contested by all and sundry – including exes – because of inadequate estate planning (including the absence of an ironclad prenuptial agreement).
Consider all of Your Assets
Many people fail to consider every component of their assets in their estate planning/prenup, which can lead to financial frictions later. While your primary assets are likely addressed in your estate planning, there may be other assets to take into consideration, including:
- Art collections or valuable works of art
- Any collections of value, such as jewelry, watches, designer clothing, and more
- Recreational vehicles, such as boats, RVs, 4-wheelers, and more
Addressing these assets directly in your prenup will help ensure that they are transferred to the person or people for whom they are intended. When prenuptial agreements are written carefully – with the professional legal counsel of an experienced florida prenup attorney – they are extremely difficult to successfully contest.
Points to Consider
When it comes to prenups, there are several basic guidelines that it’s important to keep in mind, including:
- Make the Process Transparent – If you are preparing to enter into a prenuptial agreement, it’s important to be transparent throughout the process. This includes bringing all your financial information to the table, spelling out your intentions, ensuring that you and your soon-to-be spouse both have experienced legal representation, and making sure that you both understand each and every element of the contract (and each element’s potential implications).
- Negotiate Sooner Rather than Later – The fact is that a prenup that’s signed in haste – just days or hours before the wedding, for example – aren’t as robust as prenups that are negotiated earlier on. Once the prospect of marriage arises, it’s a good time to begin the prenuptial discussion and process. The more time that elapses between the time your prenup is drafted and signed, the less chance there is that it can be successfully contested. Generally, the more valuable or more complicated your estate, the more time you should allow for your prenup. Finally, a prenup that’s signed on the fly can smack of coercion, which is never a good legal look.
- Protect Your Children’s Inheritance – If you have children from another marriage, you naturally want to protect their inheritance rights, and this should be carefully addressed in your prenuptial agreement. If your estate planning tools and your prenup aren’t exacting, your children will inherit according to Florida’s laws of intestate succession, which can slow the process down considerably and very well may not comport with your wishes.
- Don’t Forget Past Documents – If there’s a will somewhere that leaves your assets to your ex, this may not be voided by your divorce. Such documents sometimes come back to haunt estates. Keep your will current, and make sure you keep your beneficiaries on financial instruments updated. It’s not uncommon to fail to remove an ex on such documents, which can be of significant detriment to one’s current spouse.
- Consider Prenup Mediation – If you have prenup goals that your spouse-to-be isn’t in complete agreement with, prenup mediation can help you explore avenues forward. At mediation, you, your intended, and your respective prenup attorneys will negotiate under the guidance of a professional mediator who is a neutral third-party and whose motivation is to help you come to mutually acceptable terms.
- Consider a Postnup – Postnuptial agreements haven’t been as consistently upheld as prenuptial agreements, but when carefully crafted, they can be extremely beneficial. If you’re in a second marriage, and it’s come to your attention that you need to take steps to help protect your current spouse financially, a postnuptial agreement could be a good option.