It may seem unromantic in the midst of wedding preparations but thinking about what assets you bring into a marriage – and what should happen if the worst came to the worst – is an important step, especially when a business is involved.
This can be laid out in a prenuptial agreement, which specifies ownership and how assets would be divided should the marriage breaks down. These agreements can also extend to safeguard inheritance that may be received in the future.
As every couple has different circumstances, the details of an agreement will be unique however, there are some general factors which are worth noting:
1. What did I come with? If one partner comes into 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 is particularly important if one person owns or part owns a business as an 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 a separation
2. What if it doesn’t last long? Pre-nups can offer financial security if one side of the marriage has a higher earning capacity than their future spouse. A pre-nup can protect that income, especially in the early stages of the marriage, but it 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 homes, savings and businesses, they can include arrangements such as ownership of pets or details of future education of children – in short, anything that is important to you.
5. Second marriages Prenuptial agreements are very useful in second marriages where someone wishes to protect their own children's future inheritance. The agreement can legitimately ring-fence such assets and provide comfort that they will not be lost or depleted in the event of divorce.
In many cases, setting separation intentions out in a pre-nuptial agreement prior to marriage shouldn’t be viewed as a pessimistic precaution, but a responsible step to create greater certainty not only for the couple, but also for family members and business associates and avoid the risk of future acrimony.
William and the team will be discussing planning ahead with nuptial agreements in a free webinar at 10am on Wednesday 15th September 2021. To sign up simply click here.