Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Premarital agreements have many important uses

Premarital agreements serve a variety of important uses. In addition to the important purposes a prenuptial agreement can serve such as the protection of soon-to-be spouses and property, premarital, or prenuptial, agreements can also help protect families in circumstances of a second marriage and in circumstances of blended families. Premarital agreements can help protect assets but also can help control the distribution of property in circumstances of separation, divorce or death.

Premarital agreements can address what property will remain separate property and what property will be considered marital property; clarify which spouse has responsibility for pre-existing debts, marital debts and other financial obligations; provide protection for the party that is not the debtor; describe how marital property will be divided in circumstances of divorce or death; and state agreements concerning life insurance policies, tax returns and retirement accounts.

Without a premarital agreement, property will be divided when the couple divorces according to state laws which may not entirely reflect how the divorcing couple foresees asset division. While divorcing couples are encouraged to agree on a divorce settlement, when they cannot, property is divided according to equitable distribution rules that seek to achieve a fair and equitable division of property. Without a prenuptial agreement, however, the property division process may not protect children from a prior marriage or reflect the couple's wishes.

Premarital agreements are oftentimes subject to misunderstanding and myth but can serve as an important tool to clarify rights and responsibilities when entering a marriage. For those entering their second marriage, or for those who have not considered a premarital agreement, the benefits and peace of mind premarital agreements offer are worth a second look.

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