Are you and your significant other planning to marry? Are you talking about whether you should have a prenuptial agreement? Are you wondering what a prenuptial agreement is and whether you should have one in your estate plan? If your answers are yes, we would like to address these questions now.

Simply, a prenuptial agreement is a contract between two parties who intend to marry. In the event of a dissolution of the marriage or the death of a spouse, this contract will outline exactly what property the parties agree to be kept as separate, non-marital property and how that property will be divided. Unfortunately, we realize that the prenuptial has a negative connotation but when entering into a prenuptial agreement it does not necessarily mean you do not have faith in your upcoming marriage and want to plan for divorce. We want to share with you some reasons why a prenuptial agreement is important.

First, one of the primary reasons why couples enter into prenuptial agreements is that they want to outline how their property will pass when they die knowing that they have children or other obligations outside the marriage. In most states, if you have a surviving spouse, you cannot leave all of your estate to your children. In fact, it does not matter what your will says, the surviving spouse typically can elect to disregard the will and inherit up to one-half of the estate, depending on the state’s laws. By having a prenuptial agreement governing the distribution of assets it can make it clear your intent and pass your property to your children and surviving spouse in the proportions that you desire, rather than the proportions outlined in your state’s laws.

Secondly, a prenuptial agreement may be an important part of your estate planning if you have significant wealth or heirlooms that you acquired before your marriage, or assets that are considered family property. These assets will become part of your estate that can be inherited by your spouse upon your death if you do not have a prenuptial agreement. Similar to how your property will pass on, if your desire is to leave those assets to someone other than your spouse, your will may not override the rights given to spouses under the laws of most states. Therefore a prenuptial agreement as a contract and agreement between the newly weds to declare from the law can help ensure those assets are passed down the way you intended.

If you are marrying, or remarrying, make sure you consult an attorney experienced in these issues so that you can be certain you incorporate a prenuptial agreement into your estate planning, if it is prudent to do so. Our office can guide a family through their estate planning options.

Throughout New York City, clients turn to the experienced lawyers of the Grimaldi Yeung Law Group. We are a full service Elder Law firm, helping clients maximize their options in planning for the pre-and post-retirement years. Our peer-recognized attorneys provide the legal insight clients can depend on when considering their options for the future. We make sure our clients feel comfortable working with us to freely discuss their most cherished hopes and needs. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

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