Wedding plans can fill your time, and the joy of planning for the big day is part of the fun. Be sure, however, that you take the time to create something a bit more serious than a color scheme. A prenuptial agreement serves an important role; it can help you and your fiancé to solidify some important financial plans and goals, and set up some guidelines to handle some future potential issues.
How should I go about creating a prenuptial agreement?
Unlike many legal documents, there is very little guidance or rules about what should be included, There are, however, some issues that should not be addressed using a prenuptial. These will be addressed later. The overall tone of your prenuptial should be to focus exclusively on financial issues, such as property and debt. A complete prenuptial agreement should include:
- Property: A listing of property and who currently owns it should be included. In the event of a parting, that property is not normally included in a divorce agreement. Some examples of such property include bank accounts, investment accounts, homes, land, vehicles and more. If it has value, include it.
- Debt: Just like property, who owns what debt can become an issue at some point, so a listing of all credit card debt, loans, mortgages, car loans and more is needed.
- Household debt responsibility: Creating a budget will be necessary at some point, so why not go ahead and accomplish that task now? You can then add provisions into the agreement to ensure that each party knows exactly what they are responsible for paying. For example, you may decide to divide bills based on income, right down the middle, or in another way. This is great opportunity to explore the way that you and your fiancé view financial issues.
- Savings: The need to begin saving for the future is well-known, and a prenuptial agreement presents the perfect opportunity to address this important issue. Take into consideration education expenses (you and your child's), retirement planning, estate planning and short term and long term savings needs.
Leave the following issues out of your agreement.
- Any legal issues that concern minor children. The law places an extremely high priority on the welfare of children under the age of 18, and so there are many state-mandated rules and guidelines that address child custody and visitation and child support. Anything to do with these issues in a prenuptial agreement has no status, so just leave it out.
- Any issue that you did not agree upon. Coercion has no place in prenuptials and this factor can invalidate the entire agreement, so be sure that neither one of you is forcing the other to sign something that they disagree about.
- Any agreement that appears to be obviously unfair to one party. The courts may be reluctant to enforce agreements that heavily favor one party over the other.
- The question of alimony, or spousal support. Be sure to check with your family law attorney, because some states prohibit mentioning this issue and some allow it.