However, the reality is that a prenuptial agreement can serve a number of other very important functions, and it can be a critical component to the couple’s estate plan.
Yes, prenuptial agreements contemplate what will happen to the couple’s assets if the marriage doesn’t work out. However, they also address non-divorce related issues as well.
In fact, prenuptial agreements can serve as important tools for protecting both spouses’ interests during the marriage.
Here are three of the primary reasons to consider a prenuptial agreement:
Defining Separate and Marital Property
Under Florida law, when couples get married, certain assets are deemed to be marital property. This means that each spouse has a certain amount of property rights in the assets. In the event of a divorce, the courts will seek to effect an “equitable distribution” of marital property, which often leads to conflicts over who gets what. Marital property laws can affect inheritance rights in the event of one spouse’s death as well.
To avoid these issues, the couple can use a prenuptial agreement to designate certain assets as separate or marital property. For example, if you have heirlooms or expect to receive an inheritance that you want to keep in the bloodline, you can specify this in the agreement. Another example would be if one spouse owns a business prior to the marriage, the prenuptial agreement can make clear that all ownership rights remain with the original owner.
Protecting One Spouse from the Other Spouse’s Debts
Prenuptial agreements can also be used to protect one spouse from the other spouse’s debts incurred prior to the exchange of vows. If creditors or bill collectors come calling, they may try to go after marital assets in order to satisfy the debt. However, with an appropriate prenuptial agreement in place, the couple can help protect their shared property from unshared liabilities.
Clarifying Other Rights and Responsibilities During the Marriage
Finally, couples can use prenuptial agreements to address ongoing and day-to-day rights and responsibilities as well. Many families use prenuptial agreements to establish things like:
- Who will pay the family’s bills
- Whether to file joint or separate income tax returns
- How to allocate income and tax deductions
- How to manage cash flow and whether to have separate bank accounts
- Plans for setting aside money for savings and retirement
- Whether marital assets can be used to pay for one spouse’s education
In short, by entering into a prenuptial agreement, you and your fiancé can ensure that you are on the same page on key issues and plan ahead so that you can avoid surprises and disputes down the road.
Contact Beller & Bustamante, P.L. for More Information
If you have questions about whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you, we’re happy to help. Contact Beller & Bustamante, P.L. today to schedule an initial consultation.