Prenups No Longer a Stigma

Times have changed. In the old days, a prenuptial agreement seemed to be the exclusive territory of a wealthy executive who left his family to marry his young secretary, or perhaps it was when two old-money families sealed a merger through the marriage of their kids. But in the era of duel income families and women working in every area of the job market at every level, a prenup may simply be the smart option for when couples decide to get married.

Perhaps one of them is saddled with a lot of debt from attending medical school or getting their MBA and they want to pay for it on their own. Perhaps one or both of you have been previously married and feel better if your personal assets amassed to this point stay with you and your kids. Maybe one of you is poised to start a new business venture and doesn’t want the debt to be tied to the marriage.

Generally speaking, assets and debts acquired during a marriage are considered marital property and will be equitably split down the middle here in Illinois. There are exceptions however for inherited property or property received as a gift. But any personal money mingled into the family bank account or used to buy a house will automatically be qualified as marital.

The hardest part may be broaching the subject, but really this kind of arrangement puts everything on the up and up. Financial stress is one of the hardest parts of a marriage and is often cause for divorce, so coming up with a strategy to deal with this.

There are a number of things to consider if a couple is putting together a prenup.

Get an accurate tally of your collective assets. This includes bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, retirement accounts, cars and boats, artwork or anything else of significant monetary value. There needs to be full disclosure or the contract will be voided.

Prenups are as unique as the couple. These contracts can have anything in them as long as both parties agree. Maybe there is a passion for spoon collecting or vintage instruments.

Find an attorney. Start with a phone call to see if they are a good fit for what you want to do and how you want do it – you don’t need an attack dog if careful supervision is more desirable. Ask them about their legal background and whether they have experience with what you are looking for. Each side should have an attorney and it’s best if they have a good working relationship.

Timing is everything. It needs to be done before you walk down the aisle. It’s called a prenup for a reason, so plan accordingly and make sure your attorney is available to do the work within your timeframe.

If you, a friend or perhaps your child has made the big announcement, there is a lot to do. From figuring out who will sit next to the creepy uncle from Arizona to finding the band, there’re a million details. But speaking with an attorney about a prenuptial agreement shouldn’t be pushed to the bottom of the list. Marriage is a bond of love, but it should also be one of honesty.

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