Marital agreements, often called “prenups”, can be tricky to navigate. Love is in the air, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave discussions regarding your marriage up in the air, also. Often clients will contact our firm with questions about marital agreements. Below are some tidbits for thoughtful consideration!
Pre-Marital vs. Post-Marital: Which is right for us?
A marital agreement can be an effective estate planning tool for many couples.
A premarital agreement (prenup) is a contract that a couple enters into prior to marriage that outlines all the terms, financial rights & obligations of each in the event of dissolution (divorce & sometimes death). A postmarital agreement (postnup) is a prenup that is created after the marriage takes place.
Regardless of on which side of “I do” the document is executed, basic requirements of the Colorado Premarital and Marital Agreements Act are:
Both parties must have had meaningful access to independent legal representation.
The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties.
The consent to the agreement must be voluntary and not the result of duress.
Marital agreements can eliminate expensive and acrimonious divorce battles. If a marriage succeeds until death, this document can prevent inheritance disputes between a person’s surviving spouse and their heirs.
Truly consider your timeline.
Allowing four to six months for the entire process is not far fetched. As soon as you’ve concluded that a marital agreement is a wise next step, book a consultation with us as soon as possible. This is not a conversation you want have the evening of your rehearsal dinner. Remember that the revision process can often be the bulk of the timeline. By allowing proper lead up, you permit the proper allotment in your schedule to make a choice you’re both 100 percent comfortable with.
Discuss your goals with your future spouse!
Marital agreements have gotten a bad rap. Don’t tiptoe around the idea of this document just because it’s not as romantic as discussing your honeymoon dreams! Prenups are a great way to protect yourself (assets, inheritance, real estate, division of property, businesses), but they’ve earned a pretty lousy reputation from quick-draw conclusions from ill-informed postures like “feeling too awkward or callus”. Direct conversations, even with unpalatable matters like finances and business dealings, can be plain-spoken and sincere. For example, “I want the family ranch to stay within my family in the event we get divorced or upon my death. It will not go to your heirs that are not our mutual children.” Goal discussion can also include things like religion, children, prior debt assumption, future gains experienced after marriage, Estate distribution at the time of death, and even how finances are handled during the marriage. These upfront and unambiguous discussions help take stock of what’s at risk for BOTH partners in the marriage!
Ready your financial information.
Be prepared to discuss your financial information with your attorney AND your fiance! Though it seems like an obvious step, a lack of financial specificity could likely invalidate your agreement in the future!
Familiarize yourself with the process.
The biggest surprise for most of our clients is that each individual should be represented by their own attorney. This is because the parties should have independent representation to ensure that their interests are protected. A lack of dual-party legal representation could expose your agreement in the future!
Book your consultation before your cake tasting!
If you find yourself in the thick of wedding planning, and anticipate engaging in a pre/post-marital agreement with your future spouse, add a complimentary consultation to your preparation list before the Big Day. At Legacy Planning and Probate, we encourage our clients to begin the process as soon as the “save-the-dates” go out! This ensures you both have the proper amount of time to go through the process, without it adding additional stress or angst to your season of exciting anticipation!