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Far from disheartening, prenups can promote strong relationships

When many people think about prenuptial agreements, the first thing that comes to mind is how awkward it might be to ask your fiancé or fiancée to sign one. Despite the many benefits of these agreements often promoted by family law attorneys, far too many people think asking for a prenup is basically saying, “I don’t think we’re going to make it.”

If that’s what you’ve always assumed, consider this: a prenuptial agreement might be among the best possible ways to ensure your relationship lasts. Why? It gets engaged couples talking.

For a strong marriage, couples need to be comfortable revealing their existing financial assets and discussing issues such as their financial habits, plans and values. They need to know what they already agree about, and what the need to find agreement about. They need to make financial plans, set goals and, critically, decide how they’ll resolve disputes if plans go awry.

It’s a discussion every couple considering marriage needs to have — but far too few people do it. A prenup requires you to get into the nitty-gritty details, such as what property should be re-titled, whether beneficiaries on insurance policies, annuities, and retirement accounts need to be updated, and who, precisely, owns what.

Do you need a prenup to have that discussion? Of course not. Do you need a prenup at all? Quite possibly.

There are several reasons you might benefit from a prenup. The first is familiar — one spouse is bringing a lot more money or property into the marriage than the other. Closely related is that one spouse has property that has meaning beyond its financial value — such as a vacation cabin that has been in the family for many years. A prenup can protect that spouse’s title to an individual asset in the even t of a divorce.

For some people, a prenup can be of significant value even if you never divorce. If you have children from a previous relationship, for example, a prenup can be a crucial way to protect that child’s financial and inheritance interests in the event you die before your spouse.

But what about that that awkward conversation? In a perfect world, asking for a prenup would be viewed as a welcome sign of financial responsibility and long-term planning. Couples who agree should contact a family law attorney to ensure the agreement is well-drafted and legally sound.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Plan your divorce before your wedding day,” Jim Gallagher, Feb. 23, 2014