Found Your One-in-Four-Million? Consider a Prenuptial Agreement

If you became engaged on Valentine's Day, you are not alone. A recent survey puts the number of Valentine's proposals at approximately two million. Not surprisingly, with the four million newly betrothed come four million different financial stories.

Take a Financial Reality Check

Getting married is a big step, and couples need to know where they stand financially before they begin. A future spouse may have liabilities such as student loan debt, credit card debt or other obligations. Conversely, he or she may own assets like a share in a family business or real estate. In addition, anticipated windfalls, such as inheritances or gifts, can play a part in the planning.

Prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements are sometimes thought of as only for relationships that have a perceived imbalance - for instance, when a younger and an older person marry or when the economic status of the partners is very different. Today, however, such agreements are relevant for anyone who wishes to preserve specific assets or simply wants peace of mind as he or she enters the next stage of life.

What a California Prenuptial or Post-Nuptial Agreement Can Mean

A "prenup," drafted and signed before a marriage, describes the assets involved. It outlines where the assets will go in case the relationship ends or one spouse dies before the other. A post-nuptial agreement is similar, but it is created after the wedding.

Setting clear financial expectations does not have to signify a lack of trust. Indeed, a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement can clear the way for a smoother financial relationship during the marriage. In the unfortunate case that the relationship does end, the prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement can significantly reduce potential conflict.

As California couples happily embark upon a new journey together, they should consider using a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement to safeguard their interests.

Source: Reuters, "When Valentines and prenups go together," Kathleen Kingsbury, Feb. 15, 2012.