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How a prenup can protect your investment portfolio

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Getting is a momentous life milestone, with significant implications for your financial well-being. Marriage offers financial benefits, including tax advantages and shared expenses. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution to avoid potential complications in the event of a premature end to the marriage. This is where a prenuptial agreement, commonly known as a prenup, can provide invaluable assistance.

This is particularly essential if you possess substantial investments. After dedicating years, or even decades, to building an investment portfolio, safeguarding it becomes a top priority. Thankfully, a prenuptial agreement can serve as a protective shield for your investments and other valuable assets. Let’s explore what a prenup entails and how it can safeguard your existing assets.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement, commonly known as a prenup, is a legally binding contract that couples typically enter into before getting married. This contract outlines how the couple’s assets would be distributed in the event of separation, divorce, or death.

The specific provisions of a prenup can vary depending on the couple’s unique circumstances. However, they often cover areas such as property division, spousal support, debt protection, estate planning, and financial responsibilities during the marriage.

For example, a prenuptial agreement can determine the classification of assets as individual or joint/shared. It may also address whether one spouse will provide alimony if the marriage ends.

However, certain important matters are typically excluded from a prenup. Child custody, for instance, is usually determined by the court rather than included in the prenuptial agreement.

Types of assets covered by a prenup

Married couples possess a diverse range of assets, encompassing both tangible and intangible forms. Here are a few examples of common asset types that could be encompassed within a prenuptial agreement:

Financial assets

This could encompass a range of financial accounts, including checking and savings accounts, as well as investments in stocks, bonds, and life insurance policies.

Personal property

Items like cars, jewelry and other valuable pieces of property may be included in a prenup.

Real estate

This could encompass residences, rental properties, and land that were obtained prior to marriage.

Businesses

A prenuptial agreement can provide protection for either or both spouses who have a business or professional practice. It serves to outline the specific measures that will be taken regarding their respective interests in the event of a marriage dissolution.

Debt

A prenuptial agreement can provide protection when one or both partners have debts acquired before or during the marriage. It acts as a safeguard, ensuring that the other partner does not assume liability for debts they are not responsible for.

Future earnings and retirement benefits

These examples represent only a fraction of the various assets that can be included in a prenuptial agreement. Given the intricate nature of finances, there are numerous other categories that may also be encompassed within the contractual agreement.

How prenups protect existing assets

Prenuptial agreements serve to establish the designation of separate property, ensuring that only one partner can make legal claims to those assets. Furthermore, they delineate the assets that are jointly owned by both partners.

One of the paramount considerations of a prenuptial agreement is safeguarding existing assets, including those explicitly identified in the preceding section. By defining such assets as separate in the prenup, they remain unpartitioned in the event of a divorce.

Puptial agreements have proven to be instrumental in safeguarding individuals’ assets in various legal cases. A noteworthy example is the Facter v. Facter court case of 2013, where a prenup was upheld to protect the husband’s pre-marital assets valued at approximately $3 million. The court ruled that the wife had ample time to comprehend the agreement before signing.

In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, state laws dictate the division of assets. Many states follow the equitable distribution model, which strives for fairness rather than equal division. This highlights the significance of a prenup, particularly for individuals with substantial investments or assets.

What about future assets?

Managing future assets can pose challenges, even with a prenuptial agreement. Anticipating one’s future earnings can be particularly complex. In certain jurisdictions, a prenup may outline whether future earnings will be classified as marital or separate property. Additionally, specific states and jurisdictions might provide provisions for dividing retirement accounts and pensions in the event of a divorce. Another effective strategy to safeguard future assets is a postnuptial agreement, which can be crafted after marriage.

An inheritance received in the future can be considered separate property. However, a prenuptial agreement can explicitly confirm its status as a separate asset and offer protection in the event of a divorce.

Furthermore, if one partner intends to acquire real estate or launch a business after getting married, a prenuptial agreement can outline how these assets will be handled in case of a divorce.

Bottom line

A prenuptial agreement can offer valuable protection by clearly defining which assets are separate, jointly owned, and how they will be divided in the unfortunate event of a divorce, separation, or death. If you possess significant assets, such as investment accounts, a prenup can safeguard your individual holdings from being subject to division during a divorce proceeding. Of course, it is advisable to seek appropriate legal counsel to ensure the contract is properly drafted and to determine the most equitable approach for dividing your assets.

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