While you may know that your estate plan should contain, at a minimum, a will and advance medical directives, you may also need to consider a prenuptial agreement as well. Prenuptial agreements, also known as premarital agreements or “prenups,” are contracts that prospective spouses enter into before they get married. These agreements can be a very important part of your estate plan, especially if you already have children from a previous relationship or are entering into a second marriage.
For those who already have children from previous relationships, a prenuptial agreement can be very important to help you preserve your child’s inheritance. Once you get married your new spouse may be entitled to inherit at least a portion of your estate when you die. With a premarital agreement, you and your new spouse can choose to waive your right to inherit the spousal share, thus preserving your child’s inheritance.
If you don’t have children from a previous marriage you can still use a prenuptial agreement to preserve your estate. For individuals with significant amounts of assets, you may want to ensure that your family members, friends, or charities receive an inheritance if you die. If you get married and don’t create an estate plan, your spouse may inherit your entire estate.
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of a prenup and want to ensure your spouse does receive an inheritance when you die, you can always choose terms that are more suitable to your desires. You may, for example, include a sunset provision that allows your spouse to inherit a spousal share as long as you’ve been married for a specific length.
The legal requirements for a valid marital property agreement are very strict. Such agreements should not be attempted without the counsel of attorneys who are well versed in this area of law.