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Prenuptial agreement: a common sense move when entering marriage

With your plans to wed, you and your future spouse are about embark on a grand adventure. Maybe it is the first trip down the aisle for both of you. Or maybe you have been previously married to, and divorced from, someone else. Either way, you may be interested in learning about how creating a prenuptial agreement will protect the interests of both of you.

A prenuptial agreement is not just for people heading into second or third marriages. Unfortunately, roughly half of all marriages end in divorce, so this legal document can protect any person about to enter into matrimony. For example, a prenuptial agreement can address matters related to debt, especially if one member of the couple has an abundant amount of it. A prenuptial agreement can also protect the interests of someone who has accumulated much more wealth than their future spouse.

Protecting yourself, your assets and loved ones

Maybe you remember some of the mistakes you made in your first marriage, and you do not want to repeat them.

This time around you are prepared to lay all your cards on the table – full disclosure — for an open discussion that you expect will help build a stronger foundation for your pending marriage. A prenuptial agreement is an opportunity to decide whether and how Arizona community property laws will affect the financial aspects of your marriage. Here are some of the topics to address when speaking with an attorney about drafting a prenuptial agreement:

  • Clear identification of the separate assets and debts of each person. The list includes financial and real estate investments, retirement accounts and family-owned businesses for the former, and student loan debt and credit card debt for the latter.
  • Deciding how bank accounts will be held an what each spouse is expected to contribute toward the household.
  • Defining the couple’s agreements regarding property and debt division should the couple divorce or one person dies.
  • Identifying the inheritance rights of children and grandchildren from previous marriages. Although you may choose to leave your property to your surviving spouse, you may also want the option to choose your beneficiaries of your property and your life insurance proceeds
  • Identifying whether spousal maintenance (alimony) will be a factor in the event of a divorce.

Each spouse should have his or her own attorney to advise and represent them in the drafting and execution of a prenuptial agreement. It would be a conflict of interest for one attorney to “represent” both parties, even if the parties are in complete alignment with their wishes. Also, a prenuptial agreement is not something that should be thrown together at the last minute. Consider your options and consult with an attorney several months before the wedding if possible.

You may be older and wiser or just better prepared than others when you consider implementing a prenuptial agreement. This decision represents a common-sense approach that allows you to address financial issues related to your marriage (or in the event of your divorce), and it can protect your interests in the long run.