A prenuptial agreement can protect both parties in the event of a divorce down the road. Although no engaged couple wants to think about the possibility of a split, going over the legalities early on can make for a much smoother process should a future separation or divorce occur. Use this prenup checklist to make sure you and your spouse have everything you need for a strong and valid prenuptial agreement before your big day.
Premarital Assets and Debts
Listing each party’s premarital assets and debts is a requirement of creating a prenup. These are all the bank accounts, sources of income, homes, cars, inheritance, stocks, bonds, savings accounts, and other assets each party has going into the marriage. The list should also include debts: credit card debt, car loan payments, student loans, etc. Both spouses should be up-front and honest about their assets and debts prior to the marriage. It is then up to you to decide how to proceed with premarital assets and debts in the event of a divorce.
Some couples may choose to keep premarital properties separate in a divorce. Both spouses will still own the assets and debts they had upon entering the marriage. Others may choose to intermingle premarital property with marital property during the marriage. It is up to you and your spouse to discuss your options and agree upon whether to keep these properties separate. Each option has pros and cons.
Marital or Conjugal Property
Next, consider how you and your spouse will treat assets and debts you accumulate together during your married life. You and your spouse can decide to split the marital property directly down the middle, 50/50, or come up with another arrangement. It can be difficult to keep track of who purchased or owns what during a marriage, so agreeing upon a percentage of total marital property can be the simplest solution.
You and your spouse must also consider money management while drafting a prenuptial agreement. You may have different methods of banking, saving, and spending; both partners need to work together to plan your financial future. Discuss items such as retirement accounts, 401(k)s, stocks and bonds, vacations, luxury vehicles, and other expenses to see where you both stand. You will need to discuss these things out in the open to reconcile different money management styles, and to create a plan for what you will both spend and/or save.
Ask yourselves who will be in charge of primary financial planning in your marriage. How will you agree upon large expenditures? Do you both need to ask one another’s permission? Who will be responsible for keeping up with bills? Do you prefer your own bank accounts, or a joint account? Discuss your long-term financial goals and craft your prenup around them.
Your prenup checklist should include a third party who can help you and your spouse settle matters. The third party should be an unbiased mediator, counselor, or religious advisor to help you make decisions. Involving a third party can keep things fair and civil. It can also protect your rights and prevent you from making a major mistake – such as signing away your rights to any assets because you do not believe you will ever get a divorce. A third party can be a wise way to facilitate a smart prenuptial discussion.
Finally, make sure both you and your spouse sign the final draft of the prenuptial agreement before a notary public. Failing to sign the document, or not doing it officially in front of a notary, could make the document void. Have an Austin prenuptial agreement lawyer draw up the document to make sure it is legal and valid.