10th Aug 2018

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

It may seem unromantic in the midst of wedding preparations but thinking about what assets you bring into a marriage – and what should happen of the worst came to the worst – is an important step.

This can be laid out in a prenuptial agreement, which specifies ownership of belongings and explains how they will be divided should the marriage breaks down. These agreements can also extend to safeguard inheritance that will be received in the future for ‘blended families’ – those which involve children from a previous relationship who it may be desirable to safeguard inheritance for.

As every couple has different circumstances, the details of an agreement will be unique to them. However, there are some general factors which are worth considering if you are thinking about tying the knot:

1. What did I come with?

If one partner comes in to the marriage with more to their name – perhaps a house or substantial savings – and wants to protect it, a pre-nuptial agreement can ensure that ‘separately owned’ property remains just that. 

This can be particularly important if one person owns or part owns a business as a pre-nuptial agreement can prevent difficulties for the other people involved in the business by specifying how it’s valued and how it would be reflected in any financial settlement.

2. What if it doesn’t last long?

The financial security that pre-nups offer is important for those who have a higher earning capacity than their future spouse, particularly for a short period in their careers – for example entrepreneurs or professional sportspeople. A pre-nup can protect that income, especially in the early stages of the marriage. Pre-Nuptial agreements can also protect the spouse who gives up their earning capacity in order to support the other or raise a family.

3. What if they’re a big spender?

Sometimes, one spouse will bring a substantial amount of debt into the marriage. If the marriage ends, the other spouse will not want to be burdened with debt that wasn’t theirs to start with. The prenuptial agreement can provide for this.

4. What about all the other stuff?

Prenuptial agreements can be drafted to your specification.  As well as dealing with houses, bank accounts and businesses, they can include arrangements such as those around ownership of pets or details of future education of children – in short, anything that is important to you.

Pre-nups can also ensure confidentiality at the time of any divorce. Although these may not seem like significant matters at the beginning of a marriage, they can become major points of contention if the marriage does break down.

Okay you’ve persuaded me, what now…?

Some couples already have some idea of what they want.  Some prefer to leave most of the discussion to the lawyers.  Once a solicitor knows what a couple want, they can draft the pre-nup and take the couple all the way through to singed and sealed. 

If you would like to know more about prenuptial agreements and whether they are for you, contact Berwins’ expert team.

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