Be Mine: Finding the Romance in Prenuptial Agreements

A Conversation for Valentines

By Cooley A. Arroyo

For the uninitiated, a prenuptial agreement is a written contract executed by two people before marriage; by the terms of the agreement, the parties can decide the distribution and dissolution of their property upon divorce, death, or a similar event. Phrased differently, it’s a simple way for couples to determine what will “be mine” if something should go wrong in the future.

(Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. See what I did there?)

Prenuptial agreements are most frequently drafted to predetermine the distribution of the marital estate in the event of divorce, but for many couples, divorce is the last thing they want to ponder as they prepare for their wedding. Indeed, the media, pop culture, and maybe your great-aunt twice removed would likely insist that nothing pulls the romance out of a moment faster than the word "prenup." However, many people say that a good marriage is founded on honesty and respect, and a prenuptial agreement encourages couples to have honest conversations about what they would want — and how they would want to be treated — if something goes wrong. By making the agreement, the prospective spouses are looking out for each other and considering each other’s needs and wishes. What could be more romantic than that?

Like the other estate planning options discussed on this blog, a prenuptial agreement is a simple and responsible way to plan for the worst while expecting the best. Not every couple needs a prenuptial agreement, but many couples may be surprised to learn how this option could benefit them. A prenuptial agreement is a particularly attractive solution when one or both partners has an interest in a family business, minor children from a previous relationship, or expensive or sentimental assets that must be kept “in the family.” The agreement gives the parties an opportunity to express their wishes and establish how these valuable considerations will be treated just in case something goes wrong in the marriage.

If you think a prenuptial agreement might suit your needs, contact me or one of the estate planning attorneys at Cleveland, Waters and Bass to learn more about this estate planning option. It is particularly important to ensure that your prenuptial agreement is executed well before the wedding date, so contact us to determine how this option might help you and your partner before your big day.

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