My girlfriend and I are engaged and planning to get married this summer. Some people have told us that we should get a pre-nup to protect ourselves legally, but we’re not sure if we need one. Neither of us is very wealthy. What do you think?
Wedding Planning in White Plains
Dear WP in WP,
Congratulations on your forthcoming nuptials! I also commend you for taking the time in advance to think about these difficult issues, because a little preplanning can make all the difference in the world. When you get married, the law looks at the two of you as one unit, rather than two separate people. This can be advantageous, depending on your situation.
There are many laws that exist to protect spouses in the event of a divorce. Even if you keep some of your assets separate, divorce puts many of those assets at risk. Having a pre-nuptial agreement can save you a lot of money and emotional grief in the event of a divorce. It also helps to clarify your understanding of your finances and interdependency.
The process of working on a pre-nuptial agreement with your fiancée and your attorneys will prompt important conversations about your economic goals, how you value money, and your intentions for your shared and separate wealth. It’s easier to have these conversations before marriage.
You might think you don’t have many assets to protect. But if you or your partner has a job with retirement benefits, expects to receive an inheritance, or plans to purchase property or stocks and bonds, you might benefit from a pre-nuptial agreement.
Additionally, if you plan to significantly change your economic position to benefit the other—for example, to support your partner as she goes to school—a pre-nuptial can offer protection. There are many different types of agreements, ranging from basic to complex. It’s wise to consult an attorney regarding your rights prior to getting married, and avoid complicated legal issues down the road.
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*This column is not a consultation with an attorney and should in no way be construed as such or as a substitute for such consultation. Anyone with legal issues or concerns should seek the advice of her own attorney