Do prenuptials and estate planning really go together? Absolutely!! There should not be any negative thoughts or feelings about either type of planning. Let’s begin this discussion by explaining exactly what a prenuptial agreement is: It is a contract between two parties who intend to marry. This contract outlines exactly what property the parties agree to keep as separate, non-marital property and how that property will be divided in the event of a dissolution of the marriage or the death of a spouse. Keep in mind that by entering into a prenuptial agreement does not mean that you do not have faith in your upcoming marriage or want to plan for a divorce.
We would like to share with you two main reasons why a prenuptial agreement is important and whether you should have one in your estate plan.
- First, most couples enter into prenuptial agreements when they want to outline how their property will be distributed when they die if they have children outside the marriage. In most states, if you have a surviving spouse, you cannot leave all of your estate to your children. It does not matter what your will says; the surviving spouse can elect to disregard the will and inherit up to one-half of the estate, depending on the state’s laws. A prenuptial agreement governing the distribution of assets can help to ensure that your property passes to your children and surviving spouse in the proportions that you desire rather than the proportions outlined in the laws of your state.
- The second reason for entering into a prenuptial agreement is that you want to dictate to whom you wish to leave valuable assets acquired prior to the marriage. If you do not have a prenuptial agreement, those assets may become part of your estate that can be inherited by your spouse upon your death. If your desire is to leave those assets to someone other than your spouse, your will or trust alone may not be enough because of the rights given to spouses under the laws of most states. Therefore, including that information in a prenuptial agreement can help ensure those assets pass in the way in which you intend.
Most importantly, we highly recommend that if you are marrying, or remarrying, make sure you consult a Florida estate planning attorney who is experienced in these issues so that you can be certain you incorporate a prenuptial agreement into your estate planning, if it is prudent to do so.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. At the Perlin Estate Planning & Probate our credentials enable us to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to our legal services. By building relationships with our clients, we are also able to understand each client’s needs and desires, and we support such goals through thoughtful, comprehensive planning techniques. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.