Why does somebody need a prenuptial agreement?
Often people think of prenuptial agreements in negative terms that are predicting the end of the marriage. In reality, prenuptial agreements can act as a form of premarital counseling. They force people to think about and discuss how they plan to spend their money, how they plan to work together on saving for retirement, if/when they plan on having kids, and what would happen if one of them wants to stay home with those children. Prenuptial agreements can spark conversations that are helpful long term for keeping the marriage together. Typically, it is easier to get through planning early on when the couple is happy with each other, rather than trying to make decisions when the relationship has ended and everyone is angry and hurt.
With Prenuptial Agreements, I also recommend that people do their estate plan simultaneously. We can line up their trusts and wills so that they mirror what is in the financial piece of the prenuptial agreement. That way there are no discrepancies between what is in the prenuptial agreement versus the estate plan.
How is a postnuptial agreement different than a prenuptial agreement?
A postnuptial agreement is created after the couple is already married and is created to prevent a divorce. The marriage maybe starting to fall apart, and one of the spouses may feel they need some security in order to stay married. So, the postnuptial agreement is really designed to keep people in the marriage. Instead of going through the divorce process, one of the couple may feel that, “If I just knew that this one account was going to be my sole property, then I can know that I’m protected in some way, and I can go forward with the relationship.”
Often with postnuptial agreements, it is to protect a spouse. One example of this is if one of the parties has a substance abuse issue, and the other person is worried about them spending all the money when they are not sober. One spouse wants to have a separate account that the person with a substance abuse issue cannot access. By having parameters around that account, they are a little more protected and that account would not get drained due to that person’s substance abuse issues.
Handling Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
Collaborative Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
Each person has an attorney and they talk through the different possible provisions together as a group before doing any drafting.
Mediation Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
Couples come in together to talk through the different points (or, they can figure out the terms together in advance). The mediator would draft the corresponding paperwork, and then the parties would each review the agreement with their own separate attorney.
Sometimes the parties come in with a draft of their prenuptial agreement already complete and are looking for an attorney to review it with him/her/them to make sure they understand what they are signing. We are happy to provide that service as well.