Most of the prenuptial agreements I do in my office are for people getting married a second or third time. By the time the parties are getting married for the second or third time they understand that they do not want to be fighting about asset division should the marriage not work out, but also in many instances people have families from prior marriages and they want to be strategic about preserving assets for their families in the event of a divorce or even death.
One of the primary reasons many people get a prenup is to protect the assets they brought into the marriage with them. This is not just for people with an inheritance entering into a first marriage. For people who get married later in life, or who are getting remarried at any age, it’s normal to want to shield assets that have been built up over the years.
Protecting the Property You Brought Into the Marriage
When you get married a second or third time, you may have built up security and wealth over the years. While second marriages can bring many positive things, they are statistically more likely to fail than first marriages. If you have gone through divorce once or twice, the last thing you want is to toil over trying to decide how to divide assets in divorce a second or third time. A prenup can help you decide in advance what proportion of the assets you have built up over the years should go to your divorcing spouse, if any.
Couples getting remarried in Massachusetts are in a strong position to protect premarital assets by using a prenup. The courts in Massachusetts usually follow the prenup’s instructions on keeping premarital property separate. This means the spouses can usually walk out of a second marriage with the property they earned before the marriage.
Protecting Your Children’s Inheritance
The obvious reason to enter into a prenup is to decide what happens if you get a divorce. Another reason is to clarify what happens to your finances if you stay married and one of you passes away. This is an eventuality that unfortunately looms over second marriages in particular. People who get married a second or third time may be older and they may have children from previous marriages. If you are married and do not have an estate plan in place your spouse, not your children has the right to inherit a share of your property when you die. Even if your will states that you want someone else to inherit your property, your spouse may still be able to claim a legal share of your property. A prenup can be a way to fortify your estate planning so your assets can go to whomever you choose.
Despite your commitment to your spouse, you might still prefer that the bulk of your assets go to your children. This often makes sense for couples who are getting remarried and have independent finances and wealth that they brought into the marriage. If this is the case, you should make a prenup to specify what assets you would like to be separate property. A prenup should be made in combination with a Will and an estate plan that may include trusts and other instruments. A prenup is not a substitute for an estate plan, but it can make it much more likely your wishes will be respected.
The Importance of a Well Drafted Prenup
When you get a divorce in Massachusetts, the courts will look at whether any prenup is fair and reasonable, both at the time it was drafted and at the time of divorce. If the prenup leaves one spouse in a far reduced situation financially at the time of divorce, or unable to take care of themselves after the marriage, the courts may not consider the prenup to be fair and reasonable at the time of divorce. This is why you need to consult with a highly skilled Massachusetts divorce attorney who has experience drafting prenups for couples who have built up significant resources over their lifetime and remarrying. Prenups can be an excellent tool for couples who want to clarify their finances and avert future complications. Our law firm has extensive experience working with high net worth couples who want to make a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement especially for second or third marriages. Please contact us to learn more about how we can assist with important pre and postnuptial agreements that could protect your security.