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Protecting your assets when getting married

Because half of all marriages end with a divorce in this country, engaged couples in Florida should set their emotions aside and consider entering a prenuptial agreement that helps disclose their assets and lessen the intensity of property disputes when a marriage ends. Certain couples may benefit more from these agreements.

For couples with large assets or expecting a significant inheritance, a prenup may be helpful if their marriage ends with a high asset divorce. These agreements are also beneficial when one spouse owns much more property. A prenup may also lower the cost of a divorce by avoiding a protracted dispute.

A prenuptial agreement should identify each spouse's assets and debts. It should also describe how assets obtained during a marriage should be allocated if the marriage ends. It may contain an agreement on how debts obtained during the marriage should be liquidated. Payment of legal fees can also be explained.

The agreement may include clauses on ongoing financial support and financial compensation the lower-earning spouse may receive after the marriage ends. These agreements could allow for future renegotiation if the employment or financial circumstances of the couple changes.

An estate plan should be prepared in conjunction with a prenuptial agreement to assure that assets are properly identified and there are no conflicts. It is important to review and update wills, trust, power of attorneys and other estate planning documents to accurately reflect the couple's financial situation and coincide with the prenup's terms.

More jurisdictions are also recognizing the validity of postnuptial agreements. These are not as widely accepted and it is more important for these documents to be properly drafted.

Each spouse should have their own attorney to represent their interests while drafting these agreements. Even though this is an unpleasant task, an attorney can assist with disclosure of assets and lowering the intensity of disputes if a marriage ends.

Source: Bedel Financial Consulting Inc., "Wedding approaching? What about a prenup?" By Abby VanDerHeyden, May 1, 2017

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