Many soon-to-be-wed couples are signing prenups or prenuptial agreements these days. While there is nothing wrong with doing so, like any other legal contract, it’s crucial to understand what you agree to before potentially signing away some of your rights. If you are considering a prenup, here are some points you need to be aware of before signing such an agreement.
You Need to Be Prepared
Prenuptial agreements should generally be finalized at least one month before the wedding so that no one is rushed into their decisions. However, it’s best to start drafting your prenup several months beforehand. The drafting process typically begins with gathering documents to share with your attorney in order for you to be transparent with them and your future spouse about your income and assets. For example, suppose one spouse isn’t open and honest about their income when executing the prenup. In that case, a judge will likely deem it invalid in a divorce situation.
Collect the following documents to share with your legal representative:
- Current copies of bank and other investment account statements
- Titles and deeds to all owned properties
- A list of all valuable assets such as art, heirlooms, and other non-deeded assets
- A recent pay stub
- Recent tax returns
- Retirement plan statements
- Any financial records related to debt
- Any relevant financial information regarding personal business interests
- Any other documents that reveal any assets or debts you have entering the marriage
You Should Have Your Own Attorney
Since you and your future spouse are separate parties to the prenup agreement, it’s best that you both have your own legal representation. In fact, if you both share the same lawyer to draw up the prenup, a judge may not honor it in the future as they may see it as unfair or one-sided. Therefore, to preserve the integrity of your prenup agreement, you and your spouse should each be represented by your own attorneys.
Prenups Don’t Cover Everything
Prenuptial agreements are limited in the scope of what they can cover and include. For example, you can put in your prenup who will pay alimony and how much the receiving spouse will get, but you can’t determine child support for future children or include any custody arrangements. Also not allowable in a prenup are clauses related to the division of marital duties, moral or religious obligations, or anything against public law or policy.
However, prenups can typically cover the following:
- How jointly-owned property and assets will be separated if divorce occurs
- Distinctions between marital and individual ownership of assets ownership of assets
- Each spouse’s legal right to sell or purchase property and assets over the duration of the marriage
- Joint debt repayments
- Individual debt protections
- Each spouse’s right to benefits from a life insurance policy and a last will and testament
- The inheritance rights of a child from a previous marriage or relationship
Considering a Prenup? Talk to a Qualified Maryland Attorney Today
Ensure you understand your rights and the process of drafting a prenuptial agreement by talking with a qualified attorney today. Your attorney can help you get the most out of a prenup, avoid wasting your time on any clauses that might be unenforceable (including what really matters to you), and improve its chances of being enforceable should you ever need to rely on it.