Valentine’s day can be a subject of excitement and joy for some couples, and a sore reminder for others. One of the easiest ways to keep things romantic is to eliminate the worry surrounding assets in a marriage is through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. You may be wondering: “What’s romantic about a legal document?” We’re here to tell you that it’s not the document; it’s about the piece of mind it can provide.
What are prenuptial and postnuptial marital agreements?
A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that a soon-to-be-married couple files that outlines how they want their assets to be shared or divided during their marriage and after death. The agreement becomes valid and goes into effect as soon as the marriage is completed.
A postnuptial agreement is essentially the same as a prenuptial agreement, except that it occurs after the marriage has already taken place. It can happen days or even years after the wedding, but usually comes up when a couple understands their individual needs a little better, or when new circumstances arise.
I feel secure in my relationship, do I need a marital agreement?
In Kentucky, just by being married, your spouse is entitled to half of your stuff. There is also a Dower and Courtesy Interest right which means that your spouse has the right to half of your property even if you want to buy it in your own name. These include instances where you are part owner of a business or are in line to inherit assets from your family. A marital agreement can help give stakeholders in your business peace of mind knowing that even if you are getting married, you still respect their investment and initial business agreement.
A marital agreement can also protect children from a previous marriage. If you have assets that you want to leave for your descendants, a marital agreement can assist in drawing a legal boundary to protect their futures. A marital agreement also cannot be unbalanced one way or the other, so both you and your spouse are guaranteed to benefit in some way.
Do we need a lawyer to sign a marital agreement?
First and foremost, for any and all legal matters, a lawyer should be involved. In order for the pre or postnuptial agreement to be equitable, certain parameters should be met. Both you and your spouse need to agree that you need a marital agreement. It might be a difficult subject to bring up when you’re excited about an engagement, but you should be able to talk about anything with your spouse-to-be.
When a marital agreement is in the process of being drafted, both spouses are required to disclose all assets and liabilities. This can be a really stressful situation if either spouse is only just now becoming aware of the other’s bad financial situation. A lawyer can use their expertise and experience to advise both you and your spouse on how best to navigate this difficult topic.
One of the most important requirements for a court to enforce a marital agreement is that the document was made and signed willingly by both parties. If you or your spouse feels as though they are being pressured to sign, then it may not meet the requirement. In these scenarios, sometimes it’s best for you and your spouse to seek separate legal counsel to ensure equal footing. The marital agreement also doesn’t require a court filing, which means that a notary will be present while filing and it’s up to you and your spouse to maintain the document. A lawyer can make sure that the agreement is in compliance with court requirements and help update the documents in the event that your financial situation changes.
If you’re still on the fence, you’re actually not alone. Prenuptial agreements weren’t even legal in Kentucky until 1990 because many people believed that they were made with the assumption the marriage would fail. Now, marital agreements are not only the norm, they’re recommended for couples to create peace of mind and confidence about their financial futures. If you are ready to start working on a marital agreement, contact the Kentucky Estate Planning Law Center for a consultation.