Prenups and Postnups: Do I Need One?

Congratulations! You’re getting married! This is a time for celebrating and beginning to plan for your big day. While you’re choosing a color scheme, trying on gowns and tuxedos, and taste testing cake samples, you might begin thinking about whether you need to protect yourself in case the future pans out differently than you planned.

Just the word “prenup” is enough to deflate the romanticism out of planning your wedding, and your magical life together. Most people presume that you know your marriage has an expiration date before even saying “I do.” They conjure up trust issues, and uncomfortable conversations.

But they are important conversations to have. While Maryland’s divorce rates have actually been dropping over the last 20 years (2.5 out of every 1000 people, as of 2017), generally speaking, the divorce rate in this country hovers around 40-50%. That rate increases when it comes to remarriage, too. The question then becomes, would you prefer to have the conversation before any potential troubles arise so you are both on the same page, or when things fall apart and you have no idea what might be at stake, or how someone could react?

Prenuptial vs. postnuptial agreements

Both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are tools to predetermine the division of assets in the event your marriage ends in divorce. The only difference between the two agreements is that prenuptial agreements are executed before your wedding, and you sign postnuptial agreements at some point after you are married.

Regardless of when the agreement is prepared, consider the fact that during a divorce, you may spend thousands of dollars arguing through your attorneys over who gets homes, cars, bank accounts, retirement accounts, or even pets. What if you could skip all of that by having the big conversation ahead of time? You would know before any trouble might head your way that there isn’t anything for either of you to gain financially.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can also head off some costly probate disputes over estate assets when one of you passes away. If you have children from a previous marriage, you can establish inheritance rights. Just the same, you may prearrange a set distribution amount to care for your current spouse in the event of your death.

Considerations to make

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can solve a host of problems when thinking ahead to divorce, or death. Things to think about in deciding whether to have an attorney prepare one of these financial tools for you and your spouse are:

  • Whether you are expecting a sizable inheritance at some future date. Whether you want to share the inheritance, or whether it has been conditioned upon the inheritance being solely for your use, can make a prenuptial agreement a necessary protection.
  • Assets that you each own prior to your marriage. If you have worked hard your entire life to save for, and enjoy your future, you want to ensure that your plans are not suddenly uprooted by a divorce settlement.
  • Whether you have children from a prior marriage. If you intend for your children to benefit from your estate after you are gone, they may not receive as much as you intended once the probate process takes over.

Whether you are on the verge of marriage, or you are already married and thinking about what may come in the future, you owe it to yourselves to safeguard your financial stability.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can actually help save your marriage once you both recognize that neither of you has a financial advantage to divorce. If you would like to discuss a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to protect your assets in the event your marriage ends one day, meet with one of our caring Columbia divorce attorneys at McCabe Russell, P.A. by calling 443-812-1435 or by providing your information on our contact form. We also have offices in Fulton, Rockville, and Bethesda.