I have recently had an onslaught of clients who are coming in to negotiate their prenuptial agreements merely days before their wedding. While there is technically nothing wrong with this approach, it brings an extra level of stress to both sides and may result in hasty decisions, both of which could be avoided with a little advanced planning.

 

Why are so many people waiting until the last minute to discuss these agreements? The number one reason by far is that it is simply an uncomfortable discussion to have in the midst of planning for your life together as a married couple. A lot of people think that if you have a prenuptial agreement then you are planning for divorce before you ever marry. However, there are some really good reasons why you may want to have a prenuptial agreement. This may be your second marriage and you want to protect your resources for your children from your first marriage, or you have a high risk business or job and want to protect your soon to be spouse, or you have business partners who want you to protect their interests, just to name a few. If you fit into one of these groups you know it before you ever propose. Plan to discuss the idea of a prenuptial agreement with your fiancé far in advance of your wedding date.

 

Waiting until the last minute to deal with a prenuptial agreement can have unintended consequences. You miss out on the “romantic phase” leading up to your wedding date. You create extra stress by forcing or being forced to make hasty and ill thought out decisions. Neither party has the time nor the inclination to gather all of the relevant financial information that is required to make informed decisions about the terms of the agreement. You acquiesce in certain things because you do not want to “make waves” so close to your wedding date. Finally, sometimes the person who is pushing for the agreement may use the late timing as leverage to get you to sign the agreement as he or she has drafted it or call off the wedding all together.

 

Because you are potentially giving up significant rights to resources during the marriage, at divorce and at death, it’s important that these agreements be given thoughtful consideration with optimal time for finalizing the agreements. Below is a short list of things you should do when the topic of a premarital agreement comes up during your relationship.

  • Do talk to each other about your expectations in the event of separation, divorce or death.
  • Do negotiate terms that you can live with forever – oral promises will not be enforced.
  • Do understand the financial assets and liabilities that you each bring to the marriage.
  • Do hire separate attorneys to represent you both in the negotiations, drafting of the agreement and execution of the agreement.
  • Do sign a Ratification of your Agreement after the marriage.
  • Do ensure that your estate plan (e.g. what you are doing in your Will) conforms to the terms of your prenuptial agreement.
  • Do finalize your agreement far in advance of your nuptials!

When you’re ready to discuss a prenuptial agreement, our Austin attorney is ready to help.