Consider a Prenuptial Agreement to Protect Your Assets

December 17, 2008

Traditionally, you may have thought that a prenuptial agreement is common only among the rich and famous. However, a prenuptial agreement can be beneficial to any person considering marriage, regardless of the size of your personal wealth. Here are some reasons why you should consider having a prenuptial agreement in place prior to tying the knot.

1. You have children from a prior marriage whose financial interests you wish to protect.

Under Pennsylvania law, all property acquired during a marriage is marital property, including the increase in value of assets owned by a spouse prior to the marriage. Failure to protect non-marital assets could jeopardize your children’s financial interest or future in the event of your death or divorce.

2. You have an inheritance in your name or expect to receive one during your marriage.

Your inheritance could become a marital asset subject to equitable distribution if you do not protect it in a prenuptial agreement.

3. You want to protect your family business or other assets you acquired prior to marriage.

All assets are subject to valuation during a divorce. Failure to protect your interest in the family business could lead to a complicated business valuation as part of an equitable distribution proceeding, and could open up a claim that it is a marital asset.

For similar reasons as stated above, you should consider a prenuptial agreement if any of the following are present in your case:

  • You are the beneficiary of a trust,
  • You earn significantly more than your partner,
  • You have more income or assets than your partner
  • Your partner has a tendency to "overspend" and has incurred significant premarital debt,
  • You want to decrease your financial exposure for your partner’s financial liabilities.
If you are considering a prenuptial agreement, you should contact an attorney to discuss your options and which provisions are appropriate to include given your circumstances. Your fiance may decide to obtain his or her own attorney to review the agreement once it is prepared. If you seek legal representation, you should prepare a list of your assets and debts before the initial meeting.