Merging lives also means merging finances, and a pre-nuptial agreement can be used as a roadmap to define and guide the process. The right tone can make all the difference.
Planning a wedding? Today’s bride and groom are busy with the details, from selecting a photographer to writing vows and meeting with the caterer. It can be overwhelming, as you plan your first milestone event together, when you want everything to be just right. How can you add the sensitive issue of a pre-nup agreement into the mix now?
Brides magazine’s recent article, “Here's How to Start That Prenup Conversation,” offers some constructive tips to help ease into that conversation.
It’s best to try to have a productive conversation about a pre-nup, by positioning it in the right light. There’s so much negative emotional energy surrounding the idea of a premarital agreement. However, you can begin by asking your fiancé about how you'll address your finances in marriage, like investing and joint banking accounts. This can put it all in a more positive light. Think of a premarital agreement as a financial planning tool to help you have discussions about what your finances will be like during your marriage.
With that in mind, you can approach it as working to prevent a divorce, not preparing for what things will look like when you get divorced. Talk about a pre-nup in terms of fears and goals, so that when you and your fiancé understand the rationales of the request for a pre-nup, it’s generally more accepted and less emotional.
You should also talk with an experienced estate planning attorney and see how your state law applies to your marriage in the event of a divorce. A pre-nup allows you to discuss and draft an agreement that’s focused on both spouses. Find out from your attorney what protections you’d have under state law, and make sure that they're included.
It is important to think of a pre-nup not as an ultimatum before the wedding, but instead as part of preparations for a marriage, which is at its essence a long-term working partnership. Start talking with your intended and your attorney, months before the wedding celebration. You’ll want time to work through the issues, negotiations and the emotions that accompany the discussions. Your attorney will be able to explain why the pre-nup works to protect you both, and you’ll be able to get clear on how you will handle finances, retirement accounts, home ownership, investments and other assets.
Start these discussions before you begin planning the wedding, so that you and your beloved can focus on planning a joyous occasion, with the business side already taken care of.
Reference: Brides (June 2, 2017) “Here's How to Start That Prenup Conversation”